Question yourself

How many times in your martial arts training do you question yourself? If something does not feel right or does not immediately work for you it is tempting to ask your instructor why. However, we should all master the art of questioning ourselves before we can possibly master our martial art. Here are some examples:

A technique we are learning feels uncoordinated or weak. Why is this? Before we worry that we are doing it incorrectly or that we have misunderstood, we should first question ourselves. Have we done the technique enough times for it to feel comfortable? Many of the things we learn in our classes are new and unnatural; otherwise we would not need to be learning them. Often techniques need to be repeated many times before we feel comfortable with them, so before you get frustrated with yourself, your training partner or your instructor, ask yourself if you have repeated the technique enough times for you to feel comfortable with it. If the answer is ‘no’ then repeat it some more-this is how to learn your new skills.

You feel you have repeated a technique enough times to make it sink in, but it still feels uncomfortable. Before you blame your training partner, ask yourself if you were really concentrating on what you were doing when you did your repetitions. If you were wondering what you would have for dinner later, or thinking about how you embarrassed yourself at work that day then chances are your brain was not really taking in what you were repeating anyway. In order to learn, it is important not just to mindlessly repeat movement sequences, but to actually concentrate on what you are doing and to visualise a context in which you had to do it for real (visualisation does not mean you have to damage your training partner, it is a mental exercise!).

Do you tend to train with the same people every week? It is totally natural and understandable if you do because we always train better with certain people. However, don’t miss out on the opportunity to train with those you would not first think of because everybody has a different body structure and a different way of moving and they vary in height, weight and strength. This means that in terms of developing fine motor skills and good visual awareness, everybody has something to offer. Training with the same person week in and week out is sometimes very satisfying, but try not to ignore the benefits of training with different people. Class camaraderie may also benefit and this can affect everyone positively.

Why do you attend your martial arts class? Is it to show off your muscles and demonstrate to all the other students that you are tougher than they are? Is it to meet new people and feel part of the group? Is it so that you can tell your friends that you are learning a deadly fighting system? There is nothing particularly wrong with any of these things, but it is important to know ourselves and our motives in order to progress comfortably in our class. For example, if your wish is to be a good ‘fighter’, that is fine, but you need to appreciate that some people are naturally more timid than you, yet they can be excellent training partners for you if you give them space and time to learn. If you wish to meet new people and feel a sense of camaraderie then a martial arts class is a great place to do it, but remember that some people are there to train and forget their daily stresses, not talk about them. In short, be flexible in your approach and know your own reasons for learning. After all flexibility and self-knowledge are fundamental to WingChun.

The list could go on, but I have questioned myself as to the benefits of making it longer and have realised the point has been made!