Be Like Water

I am working on a speech for my Toastmaster’s Club. It is my “Ice Breaker”, where I introduce myself to the club and they get to learn a little bit about me.  I am leaning toward speaking about my kung fu and how it has been part of my life for 38 years.  Now that I’ve put a number to it, I can’t believe it’s been that long.

These past few days, I’ve been talking to people about kung fu, researching and thinking about my past experiences with kung fu, and recently a discussion on Chi Kung (Qigong) has got me thinking about meditation and why it’s necessary in kung fu.

Typically, after a hard and tough workout where “powerful” energies are being utilized; a lot of yelling, screaming, punching and kicking, and where the mind is in a state of intense activity and “war”; that force can continue post-workout and actually affect others around you in a negative way. That amplified spirit that you’re exuding can be misconstrued as a desire to fight, and trigger those who are sensitive enough to feel it to react.  Think of it as the “Dark Side” like in Star Wars (have you seen any of the Star Wars movies?).

So, what do we do to prevent that from happening?

Well, what I’ve learned and have done is at the end of a strenuous workout is transition to a meditative state in order to clear and calm the mind.  What I do and have my students do is line up, sit in a kneeling position, hands with palms up on their laps or quads, take a deep breath (3 counts), hold the breath (3 counts), exhale (3 counts) and repeat.  I usually say in a low tone for all to hear as I’m breathing out, “Calm the breath, calm the mind” and/or “Listen for the quiet”, and more recently, “The Force is with me, and I am One with the Force” (Haha).  We could be there for 5 mins or until the energies have slowed down and have calmed. (Remember in Kung Fu Panda where Master Shifu would continuously say, “Inner peace, inner peace”. Have you watched Kung Fu Panda? 😉 )

It’s important for the martial artist to be able to stay calm in the face of battle. When things are in a chaotic and dynamic state,  we must be able to stay calm enough to allow for the mind to stay creative and focused on what is happening around us and figure a way out of the mess.  This can be applied in any situation.  You may be going through some tough times and things are going awry.  You can figure a way out as long as you can stay calm.  To quote a famous martial artist that many of us know and adored:

“Be like water making it’s way through cracks.  Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object and you shall find a way around or through it.  If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.  Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water.  If you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash.  Be water my friend”. – Bruce Lee

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