Martial, Tactical and Philosophical Muse : Fundamentals and basics, starting over again

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“The more advanced you are, the more fundamental you get”

Those words are written on the wall of the gym where one of my friends train, Paul Ingram (I have to give you credit Paul, those words are divine).

There’re no words more truer than that.

The thing is that I should be sleeping right now, being that it’s so late in the AM when I have work to do in a few hours.
But like Tyrese Gibson says, sometimes something compelling comes to mind and you have to act upon it.
You sometimes have sleepless hours because you are so driven to get these visions or thoughts out and manifest them.

I had these thoughts come to me suddenly and these images that open my inner eye.
And compelled me to put these words down and share it with those who wish to read and get some insights.

Fundamental, foundation, the base, the root of it all.

In the martial path, everything has to begin at the basics. The foundation is the very building block, the very platform that all skillsets and knowledge are built upon. You can progress as far as the eye can see, and reach to the stars and grab them, but if your foundation is weak, it will crumble under your feet and you will come falling down again.

Everything has a beginning. The starting point where all journeys and paths spread out from.

In the context of the fighter; when one is in a state of immense stress and chaos, a flurry of threats assaulting one’s senses, more often than not one resorts to the basics and fundamentals because it is the simplest of forms that one can easily revert to. It is the most straightforward and efficient. No flare, no flash, straight to the point.

Ugly to look, but effective to use.
From it stems the flow, where one basic concept chains to another, and another, and another, and so on.

As it was once said:

“There is no advance. Advance is just a combination of basics put together.”

I shall not mention who this quote was from as I am not sure of the true source, I just heard it from my instructor. So my apologies to the original person who said this. I mean no disrespect.

The one thing that always astounds me about the martial path is how it is the physical manifestation of the human condition, a reflection of the human action and thought processes. What you learn when walking this path transfers itself to one’s everyday life.

As of late, I realised that I have been in a state of turmoil. Things have gone rather topsy turvy. A victim of circumstances, just like so many others around me, I fall and tumble into a spiral of confusion.

But as sudden as it was lost, it came back again. A revelation and an awakening. It was an eye opening experience. I guess I awoke from a stupor and slumber, arising from a dream long running.

It is time to regain the flow again, the flow that has once kept me centered before. It is time to go back to basics.

Because at many points in our lives, when we embark on a new journey, we choose a new path. Some paths allow us to reach our destinations while some lead us to dead ends. It’s not all doom and gloom, although the emotions and thoughts tend to portray so. We fall, we get hurt but once the pain subsides we slowly pick ourselves up again.

So what do you do when you reach the dead end?
Once you’ve stopped your nose from bleeding caused by hitting the wall, you turn around and go back to the start.
Go back to the beginning, go back to the source, go back to where it all started, go back to basics.

It is no easy feat though.
Frustration sets in, fatigue screams at us to give up and compel us to just sit there and mope.

But if there’s one thing I learnt is that once you’ve gone so deep, you’ve hit rock bottom, you’ve reached an end, and you get tired of lying there in pain. Once you’ve had enough, had enough time to breath and recover. Once you make that decision, to try again, and get back up again. You turn around. You walk away.
And you go back to the start. Start all over again.

This time though, you choose a different approach, a different path.
If fate and destiny allows it, you can still head towards the same destination with a new route instead.
Or perhaps, if it was not meant to be, you find another route. You might be surprised to see that the new destination has greener pastures than the previous one.

It seems frustrating to go back to where one started.
The thought of making the journey again when one has travelled so far seems daunting.
But if one looks past all the frustration and anger, one realises something.

The starting point where you began your journey now looks different.
It’s a different feeling, a surreal feeling. It’s no longer exactly the same as before. Something has changed.
The irony and paradox is that it’s not the starting point that has changed.

It’s you.
You now look at where you started with a new perspective. Your experiences and knowledge has now given you a new bearing in your compass. You embark again with new confidence and vigour.

As T.S. Elliot once said:

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

So why the suffering? Why do we have to go through pain?
Because it teaches us humility and gratitude. It forces you to fall to your knees and build the strength and courage to get back up again. It also opens your eyes.

I just had a good session talking and sharing philosophy with a friend. She quoted me, said to me a sentence that I had said before to her.

“Pain is good”

I used that term before in a martial sense because as a Kali person, pain is a good teacher to tell you what not to do.
But now that I recall and ponder, that martial concept is brought to my everyday life as well.

The pain of falling serves to open the eyes.
When one is asleep, and in a deep dream, pain allows one to awaken and jolt upright.
The eyes are wide open and one is snapped back to reality again.

I guess that’s why we always hear the term “never give up”.
Because once you do, you will never give yourself and your inner potential a chance to develop to newer heights.
Giving up results in stagnation.

As my instructor said on many occassions:

“People come and go when they visit our class. They don’t realise that they cannot learn anything by just coming for a month or two. Many people give up and try to find something much more interesting. But stick around long enough and you will realise a lot more. Don’t give up and just keep training.”

As I finish typing this I recall the many images that went through my mind prior to this moment.
In retrospect and looking back, I realised this journey of wild waves and turmoil was a lesson in life for me, one of many other important ones that I have gone through before.

The pain has taught me many things.
And it has also brought me closer to those who matter to me. Made me realise with better clarity of those who are important to me.
It has been a valuable lesson above everything else.

I cannot guarantee I will not hit a rut again. But hey, Rome was not built in one day. Everyday is a progress to be better even if I have to keep going back to the start.

But the most important thing is that I’m evolving. My lenses are changing everytime and I look at life with a different hue with every new encounter.

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