Sunday, August 14, 2011


Grandmaster Lee is in China the next couple of weeks helping the US National Team in a competition (I think the 26th Summer Universiade). While he is there, Grandmaster Seo and a few of his teenage instructors came to our school and took over a day of classes. It's always good to get a fresh perspective on something you have been studying for quite some time. Grandmaster Seo and his students were very impressive in their discipline and technique.  One of my fellow students even commented "They are like little ninjas."

On top of technique, Master Seo shared a bit of his philosophy. Yeah, I think cheesy bumper sticker acronyms are a bit cliche but this one struck a chord with me:  F.E.A.R - False Evidence Appearing Real.  Maybe you've heard this one before but it was new to me. As a martial artist attempting to do new things as I advance (for example, combination kicks that involve spinning), I occasionally get to a point where I say to myself "Oh...I can't do that. I'm going to hurt myself." I somehow build up in my mind that I'm not going to be able to do something without even attempting it. If I look at the real evidence though, I will probably make a mistake. I will probably actually fall to the ground. However, the chances of me actually injuring myself is pretty small. This is especially true when I look at the environment I train in. I practice on pads, I have plenty of room, I've been trained how to fall. It's not like I'm dropping from 1 story up. I'm already on the ground.

The other big reason I believe this is because I generally don't understand the individual steps that it takes to execute the maneuver.  The end result can be very impressive but each individual component is doable.  With that in mind, Master Seo had my classmates and executing a combination kick of a step-behind-hook/spin-hook/tornado kick.  My initial reaction when he asked us to do this was "I'm going to get so dizzy and fall." However, I can do each kick individually. Putting them in a sequence that looks fluid is a bit of a trick but is also doable with practice.

Stating the obvious, but this is true for the rest of my life. If something is scaring you inaction because of "F.E.A.R", break what you need to do down into individual steps. Look at each step individually and it won't be so daunting. Yet another instance of "I don't do martial arts. Martial arts is who I am."

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