Mentality before technique...

March 19, 2019

 

Focus

noun

1. the centre of interest or activity.

"this generation has made the environment a focus of attention"

2. the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

"his face is rather out of focus"

verb

1.adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

"try to focus on a stationary object"

2. pay particular attention to.

"the study will focus on a number of areas in Wales"

 

Discipline

noun

1. the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.

"a lack of proper parental and school discipline"

 

2. a branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education.

"sociology is a fairly new discipline"

verb

1. train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.

"many parents have been afraid to discipline their children"

 

Attitude

noun

1. a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.

"he was questioned on his attitude to South Africa"

2. position of the body indicating a particular mental state.

"the boy was standing in an attitude of despair"

 

From the perspective of the martial arts the dictionary definitions (above) of these three specific words don’t really cover their entire relevance or meaning. It’s generally accepted that the correct mind-set, provided whatever terminology or jargon we choose, is essential for success. This is true for all aspects of life and is clearly evident in the practice of martial arts.

The correct mind-set is the key determinator in the successful practice and application of any given technique, combination or set form/kata/pattern in martial arts. The difference in regards to practice is clear to see, the sharp, fluid and crisp execution of techniques by a practitioner who possess the correct mental state is almost the polar opposite to a practitioner who does not. Moreover, the application (and anticipated outcome) of a technique performed with the correct intention and mentality could well be the difference between successful and effective personal defence and the otherwise wholly regrettable consequence of ineffective application.

 

The terminology provided to this mental state is often overly complicated or desperately shrouded in pseudo-mysticism through the application far Eastern language. More modern studies of highly successful individuals have shown that there are definite and identifiable commonalities in general mentality and behaviours. This general mentality is essentially the same as that provided and required by martial arts training and can be generally broken down into the three specific areas previously mentioned: FOCUS, DISCIPLINE and ATTITUDE.

 

 

Focus

In the martial arts the term focus is generally used to describe an internal centralisation of attention. Focus could then be seen as the act of providing that attention to a singular end and maintaining this concentration. Although the physical action may vary, the underlying mental principle does not change. In this regard focus can be regarded as the mind-set that truly places you in that moment. In that moment of existence, there is only you and the action you are engaged in.

 

However possessing a focused mindset does not mean you must become detached from the external environment, in fact true focus means to become more aware of how we fit to this environment. A focused mind is one that accepts the external factors of our environments, but does not become distracted by these. Focus then is not necessarily concentration of attention on one singular aspect to the exclusion of all else, but more it is a balanced acceptance of all aspects.

 

Discipline

Discipline can otherwise be defined as consistency in all things. The modern way is often to accept that there must an easier way, a quick fix solution and one that essentially will make the demands on us less. Discipline is then having the mental strength and fortitude to accept that the way may be challenging, yet it is indeed the way and it is to be followed. This doesn’t mean blind devotion, or unquestioning service, rather it is a mentality which retains a 100% self confidence and a sense of will to ensure that we are always presenting to be the best we can be.

In the practice of martial arts, self discipline is often highlighted as being one of the key individual qualities developed. The practice of traditional martial arts in many ways is one of individual development and improvement, one that by it’s nature relies on the efforts and commitment of the practitioner. In this guise therefore, martial arts practice (with the necessity for continual repetition, evaluation and development) itself is an act of self discipline. The requirement to follow instruction, temper and suppress ego and respect others is also common to all forms of martial art. These processes unfortunately do not come naturally and readily to most people and as such in the first instance again require an act of conscious thought and self discipline. The simple act of bowing, or forming a salute, is again for some an act of considerable self discipline.

 

In the examples provided here, the mindset of discipline is not merely confined to the execution of the initial action. A disciplined mind is demonstrated where the actions are consistently and unconsciously undertaken. Practice is performed, respect provided and instruction followed without conscious thought to do so. Discipline is possibly best identified through routine and in some ways conformity of behaviour (think of a soldier in full dress uniform performing drill on the parade square for example). However there are many seemingly less identifiable yet equally important actions which demonstrate a disciplined mind, for example consistent acts of kindness and compassion are generated from and by the same mindset, as those which compel acts of warfare. Both example, although seemingly opposed to each other, require a mindset to adopt a certain set of consistent behaviours to overcome an identified challenge.The prerequisite mentality for the delivery of both types of behaviour is then a strong sense of self discipline.

 

Attitude

This area is essentially broader and encompasses not just those previously discussed, but an individual’s personality and values. The correct mental attitude for martial arts is then a positively focused, strongly disciplined mind. This positive approach is embedded in the belief that it is best to try, that there is no failure as we can learn from all things and experiences.

The prevailing attitude for many people is geared towards the ‘easy win’, where little is expended to attain the desired result. This by it’s very nature provides a lack of identifiable value in the results obtained and can develop into a very unsympathetic, arrogant and disengaged  mentality. Often times, when this type of mentality is faced with a challenge for which there is no ‘quick fix’, the default is to avoid the issue or ‘quit’ rather than apply one’s self to the identification of a solution. This default position being based on a fear of failure, with little or no recognition being provided to the wider lessons which can be learnt.

In the martial arts we are required to approach all from the perspective that learning is a continual process. The acquisition of knowledge is not achieved overnight and it is only through a process of continual practice, review and development that we improve and grow this knowledge.

The attitude required for success therefore is one which allows us to fail. One which positively approaches all challenges and that recognises that through all experiences we are enable opportunity to grow, develop and learn. The demonstrable attributes provided by this type of attitude being qualities such as humility, courtesy, perseverance and empathy. The study of martial arts necessitates this type of attitude and reinforces these qualities.

 

In specific regards to Renegade Martial Arts we are conscious that we provide equal emphasis to the development of correct mentality and as much as correct physical technique. In periodic belt testings of our students we will assess their proficiency technically and indeed ensure that there is individual progression and development in practice. The mentality underlying this practice however is demonstrated every time a student enters our studio. From the manner in which they carry themselves in respect to other students, to the appearance of their training uniform and approach to individual training sessions, there are a multitude of methods and ways in which focus, discipline and attitude are displayed. The assessment of a student’s development is therefore never limited to a single test. There is a continuous process which is being monitored, evaluated and assessed in regards to the growth and development of our students.

To be successful in the development of martial arts, irrespective of style, the development of the correct mentality of the practitioner is fundamental. The benefits obtained in this regard are not limited to the specific practice of martial arts, they have influence and affects into all other aspects of life. Correct and appropriate mentality drives successful behaviours in all things.

 

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