Function over Form, Mind over Body, Thought leads Action

While the existence of power may be interesting to some, I’m sure many, if not most, wish for more practical concepts and concrete methods.

Philosophy is a way to train the mind, but many start martial arts or hand to hand training merely for physical benefits. In so far as people obtain mental and spiritual benefits, it is more a direct result of hard exercise and health.

Yet, in order to handle the raw power of this universe through our mortal bodies, thinking and training oneself to think correctly in any circumstance is important. For without thinking, we cannot create what we need to or we may create that which is unneeded or disastrous. A martial artist should not have “accidents” in training. How can you have an accident and hurt someone when you didn’t mean to? Is that like having an accident and killing yourself, because you tried to hurt someone and couldn’t? These types of accidental like behavior are often seen in people who may have exceptional physical abilities, but unexceptional mental strength and concentration. They just happened to use more strength than was necessary, because they have no mental conception of what is “necessary” to get the job done. And if they did, they couldn’t perform to spec either.

People tend to have accidents using things that they are not familiar with or do not totally own. Sometimes it is merely carelessness. Concerning guns and rocket launchers, often it is not so much carelessness as pure ignorance and the inability to comprehend the power invested in the tool by human creation. Children fall down and cannot remain balanced on one leg, often times because their bodies are not yet their own, merely something they were given today, very different from what they are used to yesterday or the day before. It is not theirs. It is unfamiliar. People attempt to mimic, copy, and imitate what they see, thereby making mistakes in the learning process. Those mistakes are merely a result of the copy attempt.

What is the point of being a martial artist if all one does is copy other people’s material? If that is not what one seeks, how do people figure out what is true and false, paving their own path? Therein rests the issue of mental training. For a strong mind can detect truth from falsehood, reverse engineer other people’s concepts into their own personal ideas, and basically get jobs done by their own judgment, not the decisions of their boss or superior.

Function over form, what is the point of a form if it has no function? Is it good merely for cosmetic beauty? I do not think martial capabilities should be focused overly much on external, superficial details. Yet, I often hear from many that they learn martial arts by seeing the techniques and mimicking them. After all, all that is required is to do the movement many times over and one will achieve muscle memory, right? Why do we need this “mental training” and the ability to form independent decisions when our muscles are the one memorizing stuff…

Probably because if you want to become an artist and not just an animal, one might wish for a bit of independent, individual, artistic, “creativity”. Just a bit. Besides, if the entire totality of human knowledge and abilities could be copied by merely mimicking the movements of a skilled user, I could become a surgeon by copying the movements of one and practicing on corpses (After a Holiday Inn stay). After all, it’s not like I need the “mental training to be able to decide what is what” inside the body right? I’m not too sure how many people would trust my expertise though in saving lives.

The function of something in this reality is a test for us. No matter which way we are biased towards the forms, the truth will always be in the function or lack of one. In this fashion, can we detect inconsistencies and falsehoods between the function’s existence and its form. A sword may be rusted yet be a 1000 times stronger than the ceremonial, polished, weak metal. Test it. Humans like to claim many things, but reality has no reason to lie.

Mind over body. While the common wisdom is that our muscles do the thinking for us in getting martial techniques down, it may surprise people to know that all the “autonomic” functions are in two places generally speaking: the spine and the brain. If you get drunk and cannot stand up straight let alone balance yourself on one leg… are you telling me your muscles have forgotten its memory or is it merely that your brain has become polluted by toxins in the blood stream that the blood-brain barrier cannot filter out?

If it happens to be that the brain and the spine is what controls your breathing and automatic functions, then your special “techniques” should be initiated by the same command chain. Yet, why is it so many fighters think they need not develop the control and discipline of the mind over the body, in order to fight? Is pure instinct so beneficial and easy to use that it is merely too convenient to let the body do its own thing after a fashion… whether it is or it is not, what a martial artist should seek is even more power, even more control over it, even more conscious awareness of it. Automatic instincts are best left for the survival of animals and computers. The proficient fighter can accomplish much relying on mere instinct and reactions, yet the fighter with full control of his mind and thus his body, will be a harder entity to defeat: strategically and tactically. Most species in the animal kingdom are far better physically and instinct wise than humans, yet it is humans that seem to be at the top of this food pyramid. Why is that? Is it because of technology that humans were born with, instinctively? I doubt a newly born human in a contest of instincts would win out against even a pack of wolves, let alone the hunter killers of a lioness pride. All that humans have, was created by human thought and imagination: child or man.

Thought leads action because until the neurons fire, the body has nothing to do. Until the order is given by the chain of command, the soldiers at the bottom do nothing and know nothing. This is also why people freeze up in battle, for their brain cannot decide on the proper action or perhaps to them the proper action is to do nothing, but deciding to do nothing is still doing something. The body has been ordered to maintain and hold itself. The faster you figure out what you are supposed to do, the faster the body will do it. Yet many people expect themselves to judge the right action immediately in a life and death battle, merely by training repetitious physical movements. As if this will enlighten them as to the purpose and reason of martial power. Unfortunately, I doubt that has ever been the case, where merely worshipping an idol of power has given us greater understanding of the universe.

Make techniques yours, your own idea and execution not the copy of something else that even monkeys can do. Do not allow your body to do whatever it wants to do based upon the influence of fear, anger, or any other emotion, for the more power you have, the more you will regret letting something else decide what to do with that power. Figure out, clean out, your own mind of doubts, hesitations, questions, and desires. The body will not immediately obey a hesitant, vicefull, corrupt, stupid, greedy, ignorant, foolish, commander. In other words, that part of your brain/spine that likes to go on instinct in survival situations will start making decisions for itself and you will have a rebellion on your hands. You may be able to fool other people and even yourself, but there are hidden parts of your mind that only cares about the truth when it comes to survival (after all, it’s why our genes still exist) Yet, afterwards, it’s going to be you that has to face the court martial and the board of inquiry as to your actions, not your muscle memory. Not your instincts. Not your spine.

Emotions, adrenaline, neurons, reflexes, logical and instinctive brain functions, all were designed to help you, the human, survive. Yet it is rather sad that many choose not to utilize such tools and instead rely on merely the form, the repetition of what they’ve seen done by others. It should not need to be said that a human who wishes to wield such abilities, on top of the powers of creation and destruction, needs to be a bit more in control, knowledgeable, and “competent”.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Philosophy, Psychology, Traditional Martial Arts

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