Being separated from my kung fu family has been harder than I anticipated. While I’ve always been one to push myself, it’s so much better to have support and motivation from others. I have really started dissecting my training and trying to find new ways to push myself and reach the next level. While most of you might not be as geographically separated form the school as I am, we all have times when we work out alone or individually and that’s good for your kung fu.
We all have plateaus and stages we go through in our training as well. The secret is to not fight them but use them to your advantage. If I am honest I have been through 3 or 4 serious plateaus even close to burnout in my training. We must remind ourselves that this is normal and not the enemy of our training but a tool to help us progress.
When I go through a plateau I try to change my focus and accept some changes in my training. I often use it as a chance to focus on other aspects of training I normally don’t spend much time on. It’s a great time for very slow hands for example. Maybe just do feeling drills and chin na drills for a couple of weeks. Its all about being completely “rounded” (no pun intended). If you tend to dislike really slow drills then use them on your tired days, or during a plateau. If you have been pushing your forms really fast, take it easy and think about each individual move in a form, play them “tai chi” slow and think about your balance in each stance. If you have been playing your forms 25 times each every day, maybe cut that down and use the extra time to write down each move of the form on paper. This gives you another way of thinking about the forms and really gets them in your head and in your body. We often get blinders on but the truth is we have to work on so many things in order to increase our skill; these times can be very useful.
One of the things I’ve done recently is embrace running. I’ve never really been a big fan of long distance running but I was very fortunate to have a group of kung fu brothers that helped and motivated me to run and work hard. Sifu Jones would push us both mentally and physically in our runs. I found myself looking forward fondly to the bonding that happened during those runs and in turn enjoying the physical effects running had on my skill. Still, running was simply a part of training I had to push through, sort of like horse stance. You guys at the school have a great opportunity to motivate each other and help each other reach greater levels of skill than you could alone. Take advantage of it, we never know what life has in store for us and I can honestly say the time I had with my kung fu brothers and sisters was invaluable to my skill in kung fu.
Since moving I found running a quick way to get some cardio in, warm up my body for forms and P90X (another post altogether), and spend time getting my head mentally prepared to push myself in my training time. As time went by I began to look forward to my morning runs as a time to clear my head, enjoy being outside a bit, and think about things in my life such as medical school, and especially kung fu.
Take some time and think about what you can do to use your plateau to increase your skill. Figure out a way to make it work for you and add to the overall journey of increasing your skill!
Since I’ve been running everyday for quite a while now, thought I would share my “relaxed” running play list with you. I go through stages in my music as well but here are some recent favorites I use to try and relax into my run rather than push for speed right now.
In no particular order:
- Superman’s Dead – Our Lady Peace
- Salvation – The Cranberries
- Ignition – Toby Mac
- Just Like a Pill – Pink
- Undone (Sweater Song) – Weezer
- Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall
- Eye of the Tiger – Survivor (This includes No Easy Way Out, they must be together!)
- Uprising – Muse
- I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
- Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield
- Sugar, We’re Going Down – Fall Out Boy
- Going the Distance – Cake
- Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz
Feel free to comment and add your own favorite running songs. No making fun of my song selection, unless you are going to come visit me and hang through a full workout with me, then you can make fun of them.