Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Martial Way to Turn a Weakness into a Strength

"Our Strength grows out of our Weakness."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

    This is one of those pet peeves of mine.  It irks me whenever I hear this advise.  Its not that I dislike the saying, its just that for years this has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by pop culture.  This has been further regurgitated by the self-help marketplace.  Go ahead type it into Google and see what comes up.  Mostly self-help stuff.
    The pop culture idea usually shows up something like this.  There are two characters that are going to face off.  One is a physically superior specimen.  The other is not.  In fact, the second guy is usually a physically inferior creature who, however, is smart and/or clever.  The smart character then feels defeated before the conflict starts.  He then hears the sage advise of "Make your weakness a strength" and he comes up with some clever way to turn his physical weakness into an weird, creative, but preposterous advantageous outcome.  Sound familiar?   It should, its been repeated lots of times in lots of different ways.
Flexibility Training
    This is a cop-out way to interpret the advise.  The original intention of the advice has much more to do with hard work.  And for whatever reason, our culture values creativity over hard work.  I would imagine that its because hard work is HARD.  Being creative supersedes hard work in our cultural stories.  The original idea applies directly to martial arts and martial artists.
    Make a list of all the skill that are necessary to master your martial art.  Physical, character,
social, whatever.  Then put them in order of what your strongest skill is all the way down to what you are weakest in.  Maybe, you kicks are strong, but you're not very flexible.  Or, your timing is great, but you lack power in your counter punches.  Whatever the case maybe.  Now, take your weakest aspects.  Work on them.  Work on them until they become your strongest aspect.  If you're inflexible,
Bruce Lee strength training
work on your stretching.  If you lack power in you punches, do exercises to get stronger.  See what we just did?  We made your weaknesses into your strength.  How?  By working hard to make it no longer a weakness.  Then re-evaluate you skills.  Look at what you're weakest skill is, and repeat forever.  Not as attractive, or concise as the common version is it?  But as martial artist who are constantly seeking to make our skills better, this is what we have to do.  Honestly look at our skills and work on what we're weak at, turning them into our strongest characteristics.

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