STUDYING MARTIAL ARTS
This is not a promotion for a martial arts course. Instead, I’d like to discuss a principle found in Chinese martial arts that can be applied to any creative pursuit. I learned this lesson while studying martial arts while living abroad.
From the time I was a kid, Bruce Lee was one of my role models. I was fascinated by the idea of becoming a great martial artist, so when I discovered a school that taught Lee’s original martial art (Wing Tsun).
I signed up immediately.
I studied it for around seven years, half in Denmark and half in the United States. However, it wasn’t until I took one of my instructor’s meditation courses that I learned what Kung Fu really meant.
Initially, I had no interest in learning how to meditate – especially since it required an additional fee. I was able to afford the martial arts lessons thanks to Denmark’s social policy of giving students a monthly stipend starting at the age of 18. However, my instructor Henning urged me to take it. He said it would help me learn how to be calm and peaceful in any situation.
Reluctantly, I agreed, and attended all the meditation classes over the weekend. I learned breathing techniques and how to meditate according to Indian tradition since Henning was of Indian and Danish descent. On the last day, he told us that we should practice meditation on a daily basis because it was a part of achieving good Kung Fu. Kung Fu wasn’t just tied to the practice of martial arts, but rather it meant dedicating oneself to years of mastering a practice. This lesson stuck with me, and I tried to apply it to my career as a filmmaker.
ACHIEVING KUNG FU
Achieving good Kung Fu means being dedicated to your craft for the long term, which is antithetical to our instant gratification world. This helped me not to get too hung up on the result of a particular film but to focus all my energy on it, reflect on the results, and use that to become even better at my chosen craft. I applied this same way of thinking to other areas of life, some of which are artistic, and others not.
While martial arts isn’t for everyone, each of us can and should strive to achieve mastery in at least one area of life. Engage in the practice with the idea of continued effort, focus, and long-term growth. For a few years, I forgot about this concept, which caused me to make short-term decisions that were not helpful to my long-term goals. Coming back to it has helped me cultivate the growth mindset that we hear talked about, where each accomplishment builds into a greater good.
Conclusion: In conclusion, studying martial arts taught me a valuable lesson: that achieving good Kung Fu means dedicating oneself to the long-term mastery of a practice. This applies to any area of life, including artistic pursuits. It’s about focusing on continued effort, maintaining discipline, and striving for growth. By applying this way of thinking, we can cultivate a growth mindset that leads to long-term success.