Traveling, Training and Time

...seeing the bigger picture...


November 2016



During a trip to England a few years ago I trained very little in Martial Arts. In fact, I only trained a few hours towards the end of my visit, yet it struck me that, in many ways, traveling and training are similar. They both have the capacity to open up a person’s mind to the bigger picture, to something that is interesting and challenging, both engaging and stimulating.

Part of the reason why “travel broadens the mind” has to do with the novel situations that we experience as a part of being in new places and unfamiliar surroundings. The journey through the Martial Arts is similar. A student moves from rank to rank, achieving higher belts and being exposed, as a result, to new and more sophisticated concepts and principles. Just as traveling can make us feel uneasy and even fearful, so the challenge of learning new moves following a rank promotion can fill us with doubts and trepidation. To enjoy either kind of journey we need to put our fears aside and allow our excitement and eager anticipation of enjoyment carry us forward.

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(Sensei Joseph Winn applies an armbar to his opponent during the grappling segment of his recent grading for 4th Dan)

Just as a place we visit can become jaded and ordinary if we stay there for a long time, so the techniques we are seeking to master can become boring and tedious if we get stuck in a rank and lose our momentum and our aspiration to achieve the next level. This happens sometimes because we become comfortable at a particular rank or in a particular place, a bit like settling down somewhere we were only supposed to be visiting. As you journey through the Martial Arts ranks, don’t even think about settling down until you have achieved Black Belt. Even then it is helpful to engage a new level of excitement by taking advantage of the opportunities offered at the Black Belt level. Our path continues in new directions from the base we have established, perhaps through teaching or weapons training, and progresses to new levels of understanding through the Black Belt curriculum.

During October Sensei Fung Sang became the youngest student ever to achieve the rank of Godan (5th Degree Black Belt). He had the advantage of beginning his training very young, and has now been a student of Shihan Mason for over twenty years. Though it is true to say that the best time for anyone to begin Martial Arts training is the day a person takes their first lesson, be that at five or fifty-five years old. Sensei Fung Sang is so used to training now that his journey through the Martial Arts just keeps rolling along. It is a law of physics that “a body in motion tends to stay in motion”. Let’s keep our momentum going as we travel through our Martial Arts training over time. Achieving new heights, we come to see the bigger picture.

Shihan Robert H. Mason © 2016