Believe that You Can. Decide that You Will.

Believe that You Can. Decide that You Will

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I hear a couple of phrases from students on a regular basis:

 

I can’t.

And –

I’ll try.

 

What they don’t realize is that when the say these kinds of things they’re only defeating themselves. What we think becomes reality.

 

When we think we can’t do something, no matter what other stories we may tell ourselves, we make failure become reality. It’s a vicious spiral of frustration.

 

There are variations on this sad theme:

 

I can’t find the time to practice; I’m just too busy; I’ll try to get into class; I can’t make it in to class, etc.

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On the flip side, if we tell ourselves that  we can, and we will, that becomes our reality and we make real progress in our ving tsun.

 

It’s a fact that kung fu takes a lot of deep practice. That’s what kung fu means – hard work over  a long stretch of time, like a lifetime. It takes daily practice. In order to have good skill, a practitioner must change this mindset around their practice.

 

If you think with a negative, I can’t  mindset you’ll just keep finding things to fill your time, and you won’t practice. You can’t, “FIND” the time, you must “MAKE” the time. Change the I can’t into I can and I will.

 

I will make the time for my daily practice.

I will make it to class today.

 

If you are always waiting to find the time to practice, you never will. You have to MAKE the time to practice. Set your intention in your mind. You might ask yourself, how you’ll feel if you don’t do your practice. Because it’s all a matter of priorities. If it matters to you, you will MAKE the time to do it. All kinds of things come up that you don’t have time for, and yet you do them. Think about it. How do you want to spend your time? What kind of person do you want to be? Ving tsun has the capacity to transform every aspect of your life for the better but you have to do the work, wishing won’t make it so.

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Practice of ving tsun must be a daily thing you do, like brushing your teeth. Finding the time is self defeating. Make the time. Make that commitment to yourself.

 

I also hear phrases like this during practice:

 

I can’t do the technique.

I’ll try to do my form better.

 

Again, if you believe you can’t, you will never try harder.

 

Kung fu practice is hard. It does take a lot of time and effort. Don’t make it harder on yourself with these self defeating phrases.

 

My students hear me say this all the time:

 

“ If you want to have good ving tsun, you must take the I can’t and I’ll try out of your vocabulary.”

 

It’s true. See for yourself.

 

Remember Yoda’s famous line, “ Do or do not. There is no try.”

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Just Enough

The other morning at breakfast, my wife said this little throw away comment.

She said, “You know I find that when you eat slowly whatever you have is plenty.”

I didn’t think much of it at the moment. But it came to my mind again while I walked to the gym to train.

“When you eat slowly whatever you have is plenty.”

Is this not true for our whole lives?

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When we slow down and live more mindfully, putting an end to all the ceaseless craving, wanting and chasing, we can realize that whatever we have, right here, right now, is plenty. And in keeping our lives simple and straightforward we can be happier and more free.

When we make our lives more complicated, with all the doing, with all the many possessions, life becomes more burdensome. We spend all our time working and chasing the dollar to keep it all going. Life feels less simple and we find ourselves more stressed and live less mindfully.

I look at it like I look at the art of Ving Tsun. It’s a simple art and should be kept that way. You do only what’s necessary in terms of offense and defense. You economize everything. Your motion, your energy, your time, your footwork, everything. You do just enough to get the job done. No more, no less.

As the years pass in your training, you should be trying to make your Ving Tsun more and more simple. Not more and more complex. If you are making it more complex you are doing it wrong.

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This is true in our lives as well. As we get older we should be making it more and more simple. Not filling it up with things that make it more and more complex. Things that make us have to run around and keep the juggling act going. We should have and do just what’s necessary. Have and do just enough. Realize that whatever you have is plenty.

When you put this simple Ving Tsun philosophy into your daily life you will be able to get down to what really matters to you. Whatever that might be for you.

In Ving Tsun we have a very simple formula that tells us how to use the system. A formula that teaches us simplicity.

Try to bring this formula into your daily life and see that what you have already is plenty.

Three simple rules:

  1. Accept what comes
  2. Follow what goes
  3. When the way is open always go forward.

 

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Chi Sau Seminar Success and Events!

We really want to thank all of you who came from near and far for our January Chi Sau Seminar. It was a great way to kick off 2016. A lot of Aaron Heath’s students came from our Champaign school which was super cool.

We had a lot of fun and everyone learned a lot. So stay tuned because there’s much more to come!

We’re thinking the next seminar may be a combination of Wooden Dummy material, Mo Duk (proper code of conduct for martial arts practitioners) and kung fu culture.

And as always, we appreciate you sharing our news, events, Intro classes and so on. Don’t forget to tell your friends that they can come in and visit us anytime. Just call Sifu Matt Johnson at  773-301-6257 and we’ll get you set up.

You can follow us on Facebook too! This is a great way to hear about our monthly events like pot luck suppers, movie outings, (we went to see Ip Man 3)

or this Saturday’s celebration of Chinese New Year. (Year of the monkey!)

Or our Jan. 29th Haiku Writing Workshop
 led by William Seiyo Sheehan and reading by Gerry Stribling author of Buddhism for Dudes. (and please note, you don’t actually have to be a dude to totally love this book.)

The school is located in the heart of the Chicago Arts District at:
1839 S Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60608
Phone us at: 773/301-6257
Please note the CTA bus Route 8 stops right in front of the building.
There’s also plenty of free street parking all within short walking distance.

 

Find Matt Johnson Kung Fu

Hi there kung fu folks! Since we recently moved, we are still awaiting the completion of the update to Google maps which had led to a teeny but of confusion for all you new students trying to come see us!

So, if you are looking for Matt Johnson Ving Tsun and the Ving Tsun Self Defense Academy, this is where we are:

The school is located in the heart of the Chicago Arts District at:
1839 S Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60608
Phone us at: 773/301-6257
Please note the CTA bus Route 8 stops right in front of the building.
There’s also plenty of free street parking all within short walking distance.

Thanks so much, and sorry for any inconvenience this might cause. See you round the school soon. And bring friends!

Overcoming Obstacles in Kung Fu Training Through Teaching

 

Almost inevitably, as time passes and kung fu training continues, day after day, hour after hour, after endless sweating and working of sore muscles, a practitioner may feel they’ve run into a brick wall or a plateau in terms of building and improving their skills. This is likely to manifest differently for each of us. We might experience a feeling of staleness, of boredom, or sense of lack of excitement which we associate with progress.

These plateaus are crucial times. When we don’t progress, we may have a tendency to worry. Many a kung fu player simply throws in the towel and quits. I’ve seen it time and again. During the last 27 years I’ve spent immersing myself in the art of Ving Tsun, I’ve definitely experienced some of those moments myself.

So what did I do? Well, in the years before opening up my academy and teaching students, it was sheer determination that kept me going. But in the years I’ve been teaching when it’s happened I find that just teaching to the best of my ability, breaks me through any barrier. Partly, it’s a matter of inspiration. Teaching inspires me because it always sends me and the student back to the basics. Revisiting them makes our kung fu better. Every. Time.

The Chinese have a saying, “to teach is to learn twice.” By going back and teaching beginners a practitioner teaches themselves as well. This is one of the keys to constant forward progress. Help teach. I know it works. I’ve seen it in myself and I’ve seen it in many students. So my advice to mid-level and advanced practitioners when they come to me with this problem is this: come into the class and help teach the junior students. Sometimes when I offer this advice the students don’t understand. They may wonder how teaching a student more junior to themselves will help them get better. But I tell them to just trust me, to trust the process.

Helping beginners helps us find where our own understanding of a technique or form may fall short. That leads us to ask our Sifus questions that gives us the missing concept or understanding and fills in that gap. And this can start a whole new growth spurt for you. So if you are an advanced student don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Help teach the junior students and watch your own kung fu take off again!