Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fighting with Your Eyes Closed

"Walk by faith, and not by sight." - 2 Corinthians 5:7

I had an interesting experience last week during my martial arts class. I've been struggling to teach my body the "wind" style footwork required for most of the techniques found at my level. It's completely different from what I learned before, or at least it feels that way. I'm used to moving from my hips, but wind moves from the shoulders. I'm used to 45-degree angles, but that's water - wind is more about circular motion while receiving energy.

Sensei says my problem is that I think about it too much instead of just doing it. My body knows what to do, he says, but my brain keeps getting in the way. I picture Morpheus during Neo's introduction to in-Matrix combat telling him to "stop trying to hit me and just hit me!"

To prove his point, he told me to do the technique with my eyes closed - a technique that begins with me getting kicked in the stomach!  That's crazy-talk, right? But, I figure there's a reason he's a sensei and I'm a student, so I gave it a shot.

I had to rely completely on sensing the energy of my opponent and waiting to feel the first sensations of the incoming kick, and then receive and redirect that energy. I had to know where my opponent was just by feeling it, and defeat him by moving into the right position relative to his, applying the technique, and all of this without the benefit of sight.

I felt the beginning of the kick on my abdomen, and began to move through the dark... And you know what? It worked! Sensei even said that was the best implementation of that technique he'd ever seen me do! Not only was it possible, but it actually worked better with my eyes closed and out of the way.

Now, for perhaps the first time, I understand the scripture I quoted above. Sometimes, we just have to close our metaphorical eyes and do what we know is right in the face of a challenge, purely on faith. This doesn't mean we do nothing and wait for divine intervention, but rather that we trust in what we've learned from the divine and apply it without being distracted by fear and an over-zealous need to analyze or be in control. At least try it ... you will probably be surprised at the results.

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