Ask The Master

   by Sabumnim                                   

Master, I've been training a long time, and I don't seem to be improving. I don't look like you or others I see on your DVDs, how do I sharpen my martial arts?"

The way to get your martial arts sharp is simple, but you must take your time, be patient, be consistent, get the right technique for your level, and get the correct guidance from someone that truly knows the way. But this is only part of the equation, when most people think of getting good or sharp with a particular physical skill, they think of working out, and working out harder. To make great and fast improvements in yourself and your martial arts, you must start working on the inside, as well as working out, you must work smarter and not harder. Low level martial arts (yok, keh murul) are based mostly on the physical level with a small percentage based on the mental level. Middle level martial arts (saih keh mu sul) are based mostly on the physical and mental levels of martial arts. High-level martial arts (mook sa keh) are based on the unified powers of body mind and spirit. You must aim higher to hit the high target. You must aim for Mook Sa Keh or even Sun Keh (Supreme Martial Arts), which involves body, mind, spirit and soul in alignment with the DO (natural order of all of existence). 

In simpler terms, to get sharp with your martial arts, you must understand the following basics:
1) Having all the martial arts techniques and forms without the correct mind and spirit is like having hundreds of guns without any bullets. Yes, you can hit someone over the head with a rifle, but you would never really possess or have access to the real power of the weapons you are using.
2) Your attitude will dictate you altitude or skill level in martial arts. If you have a big ego, are difficult to work with, don’t take corrections well, or can’t separate your training from your personal life and issues, you may work very hard, but not get very far. You will miss, and also be denied hundreds of corrections and never know it because your attitude gives others the impression that you are not approachable, coachable or appreciative. You need humility and high respect to get high-level martial arts.
3) Your spirit is what gets sharp first, then your mind and then your body. Your spirit is like a double-edged sword. One side is will power and the other side is desire. All the will power in the world is empty and meaningless without desire. That’s like having a powerful rocket with no fuel. And all the desire in the world without will power is like having all the fuel in the world without a vehicle. So desire (yin) and will (yang) together will produce great results. This is the spiritual sword, but now you must have a strong sharpening stone to sharpen the sword. What is this sharpening stone? It is your reason for doing anything that is important to you in your life. To accomplish anything challenging, you must first have a strong reason for doing it.

Students preparing for a promotion test certainly train with a stronger spirit and look sharper than students who don’t have as strong of a reason to train. Student Ali Guzzetta (rope defense girl on beginners DVD) was dragged into a van and almost strangled to death, and her attacker was scheduled to be released from prison within a year. In addition, her sister had been raped in a separate attack, so Ali had a stronger reason to get her martial arts in shape than most students who start training because they got tired of their gym workouts. But you don’t need to have such a severe reason as Ali to make great improvements on your martial arts. There are also yin and yang, or fire and water reasons. One reason is moving away from pain (fire), and the other is moving towards pleasure (water). Humans and animals run faster and with a lot more effort when they have fire on their behinds or a set of hungry teeth right behind them.

To get sharp in your HapKiDo training you should have a yin and yang (fire and water) reason. You should be clear on what pain you want to avoid, naming at least three reasons. For example:
1)    Being victorious if you are ever attacked
2)    Not getting so out of shape that you look and feel 20 years older than you are.
3)    Having such low energy that it affects every other aspect of your life.

You should also be clear about the pleasure or fulfillment reasons you want to move towards:
1)    Greater health and well being
2)    Greater self confidence
3)    Fulfilling a life dream by overcoming all your obstacles.

You need to find your own reasons because we all run on different types of fuel. But keep in mind, the more a person has at stake, the more they are pressed to succeed. If you would like an extra boost of fuel, then you add soul power (emotional energy), the greatest of which is love. When love is your fuel, you will never quit or fall short with your training. When love is your reason, you will never work, train or fight halfheartedly if you are fighting for or defending that which you love the most.