Friday, May 27, 2011

Great faith, great doubt, great effort

It's been awhile since I last posted! A lot has happened since then. First of all, my college spring semester just ended and I was accepted into the local university's school of music, which means that I'm less busy now and I should be able to write more often. Secondly, I'm preparing for a month-long mission trip to Japan to work with refugees from the Tsunami/Earthquake and to teach high school and college-age kids English. Thirdly, I'm about to teach my first ever martial arts class by myself.

Part of brown belt requirements is that the student has to teach a class focusing on one particular technique. I chose spinning-hook kick because...well, it's my favorite. The way I plan to teach it is to give the students a chance to practice a regular hook kick with partners, so they can get the feel of the kick before they try and spin. Basics are great; foundations are crucial. Really, I could stop at hook kick and spend the entire class learning that, but kids have short attention spans. They'll enjoy spinning with the kick, even if it's not absolutely perfect the first time.

As for how I feel about teaching a class by myself? I am nervous, but in a good way. Sensei has been giving me a lot of practice teaching individual students, so I'm confident that this will be a great learning experience for all who are involved. I don't always feel this way about it, but that brings me to the entire point of this entry.

I stumbled on a quote that read, "Great faith. Great doubt. Great effort." and at the bottom, it said, "The three qualities necessary for training."

It took me a few minutes to really understand what the quote was saying. I saw 'great faith' followed by 'great doubt' and thought, "Well, wait a minute...that's confusing. How can you have great faith and great doubt at the same time?". I think what the author meant was that at times during training, it is necessary to have great faith and at times it is also necessary to have great doubt. It depends on the situation.

For example, it's important to have faith in yourself and in others while you're helping each other learn techniques. I can think of a few situations where trust in yourself and your partner is crucial. Sprawling, back-bends, and throws require trust, just to do the technique! In addition to those things, you also trust your partner to execute the technique correctly, but also safely. You trust them to help you learn by training seriously, rather than goofing off. You trust them to constructively correct you when you're not doing something right or when you don't understand something.

These are situations where great faith is necessary in training. It's also important to have great faith in yourself, as well as in your fellow students. If you don't trust yourself; if you aren't able to commit to pushing your palm-heel all the way through the wooden board, you won't be able to break it.

Now, the 'great doubt' part also has its place. For example, take sparring. If you go into a sparring match with arrogance or pride, it will definitely get in the way of your decision to make a smart move. Making a smart move doesn't always mean attacking first. It means doing what the situation calls for. Another helpful thing about doubt, at least in my experience, is that it pushes us forward in a way that faith can't. When we look at a situation with skepticism, the natural step forward is to go searching for the truth. Skepticism and doubt often create determination to get to the bottom of something. If I doubt that I can do an aerial cartwheel, I subconsciously have an inclination to try harder in order to prove myself wrong (this can also be used to prove oneself RIGHT, but I don't want to be right, in this situation!). The doubt that I feel causes me to train harder, to practice cartwheels, and to basically stretch myself until I can do it.

You may argue that that's not actually an example of doubt, it's an example of faith in the face of overwhelming odds, but here's the difference: if I were to have total faith in my ability to do an aerial cartwheel right now, and I tried to do it, I would get hurt. Why? Because I can't do it yet. I haven't practiced. If I practiced and trained and strove to condition my body so that I could do an aerial cartwheel right now, it would be another matter. But the fact that I doubt I can do one right now will set those events into motion. I will train and condition my body to learn how to do it because I have GREAT doubt in my ability to execute that particular move at this moment, and I want to be able to later.

As for great effort? That speaks for itself. Great effort is necessary in anything that we do if we want to become great at it. To excel is to continually perform, not for a moment or moments, not for a day or days, but to perform day after day, month after month. If we make great effort a habit, it will no longer seem great to us...but we will feel the results!

That's my interpretation of the quote. I really like those three necessary things because I've personally experienced all of them multiple times in my training. I think this means that whether one is conscious of them or not, they will always show up as good personal teachers: Great faith. Great doubt. Great effort.

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