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Another Jedi mind trick

In J.P. Lau’s Yiquan Beginner’s Guide, he mentions a technique to use when learning:

“…do not be conscious of meeting the requirements of the posture; assume you have mastered them.”

At first, I only applied this to standing practice. I found that it calms me down, it takes away any baggage about where I should be in my training and basically makes me less self-conscious. It lets me get down to business and do the exercise.

Then I applied it to squash. The same thing happened: basically, I thought “hm.” Some of the things that I had been told to do started to come, where I didn’t think too much about how I should be applying them, I just applied them. Oh, yeah, let’s try turning more to the side. Hm. It works. In effect, the feeling was somewhat like that of the beginner’s mind, where we just do things without thinking how we’re not supposed to do that because we’re not at that stage yet (I’m not talking about safety, just stages of progress).

We’re not meant to think “I am the great master, and all should bow before me”. No. It’s more like the feeling we get when doing something quite familiar, such as walking, brushing our teeth, or doing something at our work that we do well. It’s more than that, actually. The feeling I get when I apply this technique is that I have nothing to worry about, but there’s still polishing to do. Maybe that’s what mastery feels like: you have no worries about your performance, but you enjoy the process and enjoy improving. And you have no concerns about someone’s being better than you, since you believe there will always be someone better than you. And that doesn’t matter.

Maybe this ties in with the idea that mastery isn’t an end, but a state of mind? In karate, the idea of achieving black belt status has been corrupted to mean that the wearer has finished something and is now a master. However, to the old-schooler, a black belt is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of learning, maybe as if the karateka has cleansed himself of the fears that preclude learning, or they have merely finished a preliminary stage. I don’t know karate, but J.P. Lau’s idea of mastery helps my squash.

But here’s the caveat: I think this can only be applied after you’ve received some instruction or are in the process of receiving instruction. It’s for those who know what to do, but just haven’t done it. I wouldn’t recommend it for the raw beginner on the first day. Although … believing that you’ve already mastered something else outside this new venture, and this new venture is building on your existing life knowledge, then maybe the mastery idea can be applied at the beginning of a new venture. Next time I try something completely new, I’ll try that.

It is said that the new student should empty his cup, and not bring a lot of old knowledge and previous status to a new discipline, and this is true. But if we are truly masters of this particular Jedi mind trick, we would only use it to open the blockages to learning, not to solidify our previously-attained knowledge and hide behind it.

So that’s it: this technique is, above all, a learning technique.

Hey, try it when you get a chance. I have nothing to worry about, but there’s still polishing to do.

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