“The fools in life want things fast and easy – money, success, attention. Boredom is their great enemy and fear. Whatever they manage to get slips thru their hands as fast as it comes in. You, on the other hand, want to outlast your rivals. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand. To make this happen, you will have to serve an apprenticeship. You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure – mastery of a craft and of yourself. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level – an intuitive feel for what must come next.” – The 50th Law
The process towards mastery is something that can only be attained by putting in the work and the time. The hours of work and grinding you put in is the foundation for your fighting skill and overall understanding of the game. As Robert Greene quoted, it’s the hours of drudgery and repetition that you have to endure. Endure because it’s not always the fun stuff which makes you successful, but the hours of drilling, bag work, pad work and extra work that you put in after you’ve done what you need to get by. Obviously to be a master you need to do more than get by, you need to go the extra mile and to run the extra mile is going to take more time, period.
This last time around that I was in Thailand my good friend Cyrus Washington and I were having a conversation about people’s expectations when they get to Thailand and how the training is going to be. The fact that when you get here and you see that there is no special technique, no secret tricks or anything that is going to elevate you so much higher than the competition. It’s just WORK. You grind, when you’re tired and buss up, you grind some more. And after all those many hours of grinding something special starts to happen. You start get that intuitive feel for what comes next, a more sound understanding of the game and of your body. You start to recognize body language, when your opponent is going to throw certain weapons, how they are going to set it up, where the openings are going to be, etc. I feel that it’s the invisible stuff that make fighters elite. Stuff like timing, rhythm, distance management, fight IQ, anticipation. All things that come later in the game after you have learned the techniques.
The Japanese have a term known as Mushin (no-mind) and it is considered one of the highest states of mind for combat. It transcends thinking in the fight and things become reactionary. You just do the right thing at the right time. We call it “the Zone” in the west, and I believe that in order to fully get into that mind state you’ve had to of put in those thousands and thousands of hours. Where your body and mind just work together fluid and action flows effortlessly. Those are things I like to think about when I’m training and the end of the session is near, when your body is sore and your mind is drained and you feel you’ve done enough and you’re ready to call it in for the day. Those thoughts of a higher form of mastery give me motivation to do more, more kicks, more drills, and more reps.
It’s a fact that the more you do something the better you become at it. Just look at the process as an investment. Any vocation you do you have to put your hours in. Fighting is even more serious in the sense that if you don’t put in your work you risk serious injury, defeat, your reputation and status as a fighter. Therefore you have to respect the process and see the importance of putting in the work. And the amount of work you put in is relative to your goal as a fighter or a person. If you want to be the best you have to work harder and more than anyone else. Make an honest assessment of your goals and then your work load and make sure one is leading you on a path to the other and adjust as you go along.
“I fear not the man who has 10,000 kicks once, but the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” – Bruce Lee