First an update: I went today to our (and by “our” I really mean Mr. Walsh’s) favorite location and purchased supplies to construct my own training apparatuses. I’m going to start with the weighted hoops. But the playground sand is heavy and therefore still in the trunk of my car…perhaps tomorrow I’ll drag it upstairs.
I have also been trying diligently to apply the principles of our dear friend Tesshu’s.
I have been focusing on the notion I wrote about in last week’s post, that the body’s only limitation is the mind, particularly during my regular visits to the gym. Now I know it feels somewhat redundant. Perhaps this is the most basic concept ever taught in martial arts. Master Pearson, for instance, has addressed this idea over and over and over again for as long as I can remember. Usually it comes up because he has just achieved something or demonstrated something physically incredible, often something seemingly impossible. When asked how he did it, his usual reply has something to do with the idea that he saw himself doing it before he did it, or the fact that he couldn’t do it, that doubt, never entered his mind (this is a major hint for those of you out there working on a particular little “problem,” but I won’t say more than that!!).
At any rate, “mind over matter” has probably been taught in warrior cultures since the beginning of time. In my own life it is something that I have thought about again and again and tried to integrate regularly into my practice with little success. But for some reason, the way Tesshu explains it, or the way the author explains it though the lens of his protagonist, really hit home. I have a condition in which lactic acid builds up rapidly in my muscles, much faster than in an average person’s. This causes an increase in the micro-fractures occurring within my muscle cells while exercising. These micro-fractirues happen to everybody especially when working a muscle group that your body isn’t used to, but they happen 2-3 times more to my muscles at a rate nearly 10 times faster. As a result, I cannot run as far or for as long, or lift weights for as many reps, or sit on my knees in seiza indefinitely, or spar for as many rounds, or spin a hula hoop filled with sand in circles in my hands for 50 revolutions without my shoulder’s getting really tired. This has never caused a major problem in my life but it has encouraged me to focus on specific athletic pursuits. For instance, I played softball all throughout my childhood since it requires short bursts of muscular strength rather than serious muscular endurance, I discovered competitive Taekwondo because my muscles could handle 2, 3 minute rounds. To put it more simply…I can run sprints but never a marathon.
I recently started up with a new trainer and I am committed to achieving certain goals in time for our next Hagsaeng Naebu meeting in August. When I explained the condition to him, he was curious but rightly has not let it affect the way he trains or his expectations during a workout. Master Pearson is the same way during Hagsaeng Naebu. He doesn’t compromise his standards for anything or anybody and he shouldn’t. It was right after this conversation with the trainer that I read of the insane physical demands that Tesshu imposed on his students and the lesson he meant to convey to them through thes harsh means. I wondered, if a person could utilize his mind to overcome physical tiredness under such extreme conditions, could I do the same thing to alleviate this muscular side effect of my condition. So I’ve been trying this throughout the week with some success. Though it requires a great deal of focus and I usually leave feeling far more tired than the actual workout dictates I should, I am glad to know that this ancient principle appears to be upheld by own experience.
So try it. I mean really try it. Consciously and seriously begin to apply this idea of mental control over the body. I’d love to know what your experiences with it will be.