Martial skill is much like your breakfast routine.
Whether you wake up groggy or with a hectic morning scramble or just a quiet start to your day, you make a meal that suits you. One that is comfortable and easy.
And you do this with little thought. You know where everything is. You know how your stove works, how many seconds to put the microwave for, when you push down the toaster you get bread toasted to the correct level.
Your coffee is made just the way you like it.
Unless you’re in an unfamiliar kitchen with food from somewhere else using kitchenware that you don’t know. Not having your coffee and your creamer is rough.
There are two things that martial artists can take from this example of a morning routine.
Firstly, we look at your normal routine. Your core techniques should be as ingrained into you as your morning breakfast routine. This means that you can preform them even when you are not at your fully awake and energized self. If your son needs a form signed or your daughter needs her jersey for today’s game, you are comfortable and confident in your routine and these small adjustments are easily handled.
A technique, whatever it is, should be applicable to a high level even when you are at a low level of readiness for it to be considered a “core” element of your repertoire.
If you need to warm up, wake up, and get into the groove to preform a technique, then it isn’t a core element.
Core techniques are those you rely on when in need. The things you fall back on in a crisis. If you get jumped after a long day of work or later at night or when you’re feeling a bit ill, these are the movements that should have a high level of effectiveness in an altercation against a determined assailant.
This also applies to sport martial arts. If you are tired or up against the ropes or get your bell rung, then these should be your go to techniques that you fall back on.
No attacker is going to give you a 20 minute warm up period or let you try it a few times first to get the feel of it.
As you age, these core techniques should still have their effectiveness. If you won’t be able to do the technique in another few decades, it probably won’t work if you’re not able to bring all of your youth and vitality to bear.
Secondly, there is the not normal routine. The second thing we can learn from our morning breakfast routine is that sometimes it’s good to mix things up.
When traveling, you can stay with family or friends in an unfamiliar kitchen. The layout, food, kitchenware is all different.
A 10 minute breakfast routine you do while mentally gearing up for the day ahead is turned into 30 minutes of focused effort that gives you a less than desired breakfast and you have yet to organize your thoughts for the day ahead. And you’re late.
Picking out suitable food for your morning palate from the hotel breakfast buffet or off the menu at some restaurant can be equally difficult and frustrating.
But it isn’t all bad.
Sometimes, in a need to find a substitute for your tried and true breakfast choice, you find something new. This becomes something that you add to your regular breakfast. It augments what you made before, making it new and fresh.
We are also forced into being present, in the moment. Instead of focusing on what is happening next while absently preparing our breakfast, we are forced into the here and now. To be present in the moment and focus on the necessity of now.
When we look at our core techniques, we see that mixing things up can give us stimulus. A departure from stagnation. Change. Exploration. Growth.
Maybe when moving with others, you try out their movements, discovering an element that fits nicely with what you already do. Maybe it’s a variation, maybe it’s something that fits smoothly into a combination you already do, or maybe it sets up a movement better, or allows you to transition better. Something.
By working with unfamiliar movements, you also return to your building, learning self. This is the aspect that allowed you to cultivate your core elements in the first place. Returning to this environment allows you to boost that aspect of yourself, aiding your further and continued growth.
Lastly, we can step into the moment and extend it to lengthy enjoyment. Instead of a quick cup of coffee or tea or smoothie on the go as you head off to work, you get the luxury of a lengthy enjoyment of your beverage.
To sit in the morning sun and just enjoy each sip is something we don’t always get. This is a welcome change and often one of the most enjoyable parts of a vacation. The ability to enjoy a simple thing. To spend time with your morning coffee.
We take time to just savor the moment and be fully present in it. In our training, we don’t always devote time to just enjoy a technique.
No need to do anything.
Just comfortably enjoy the movement.