My master would often tell me, “Without a solid foundation, your technique (wasa) will be weak and ineffective.” Yet for the longest time, I, like many others on the journey to mastery, understood what he meant, but I never held his words with the importance that they deserved. Many people starting out in martial arts, or whatever discipline it may be, want to breeze past the basics and get into the more advanced techniques without putting in the necessary time and effort to master the basics.
Not too long ago, my sensei was giving my clanmates and me pointers on how to ground ourselves in our stance. “You have to grip the Earth with your feet, and take energy from the Earth and into your kicks,” he instructed the class. I had heard him give similar advice before, however, this time I stopped understanding and began to overstand the importance of his wisdom. I began to internalize the importance of having mastery over the simple things like stance, stepping, and proper body positioning.
We continued our training, practicing various kicks, and I saw the correlation between the power of a stance and the balance and effectiveness of the kicks we practiced. Those who were not mindful and masterful of their stance lost their balance when kicking and became frustrated. Their kicks had no power and were off target. However, as soon as my master corrected their stance, their kicks and balance improved drastically.
Often the basics are overlooked and devalued by those who want to rush into learning more “advanced” skills because many martial arts practitioners fail to realize that to have mastery over your basic skills is being an advanced martial artist.
I have been practicing martial arts for about 10 years now, seriously for 3, and I still have to tinker my basic skills because mastery cannot be attained without the commitment of time and effort. Nothing is given that is not deserved. If you desire to be an expert in anything that you do, you will never achieve mastery without first building yourself a solid foundation to grow on.
Liken yourself to a tree. A tree with roots that reach deep will find the water it needs for energy. Likewise, a tree with deep and solid roots will survive the test of storms and other weather that will beat and blow against it. This tree survives the tests of time because it has a solid foundation to grow upon. The tree which has thin and shallow roots can be unrooted in a storm or killed by drought. The tallest and largest trees in the forest also have the biggest roots. Which tree would you want to be?
Whatever you do, whatever you want to be, build yourself a strong foundation to grow on and don’t be so anxious to advance that you neglect putting in the time and effort to build the foundation that advancement needs grows upon. Spread your roots and reach deep, and moving onto the next level will then be easy because you are ready for it.
Like and comment below! Until next time my fellow spiritual warrior scholars!