Fundamentals are the most important thing to practice and train in martial arts.
The thing about fundamentals is that they are the essence of martial arts. Essential. That means that they must always be present. Without proper fundamentals, all your other techniques will fall apart when you need them most.
How is that any different in life?
The easy answer is that it’s not.
However, the easy answer is also easier said than done. More on that in a second.
That’s how we started a new year of training at Magic City Dojo during a workshop last Saturday. Training the fundamentals. The essentials.
Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki
In the Bujinkan, these fundamentals and basics are contained within the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki (book of the principles of heaven, earth, and man).
The Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki, often simply referred to as the “Tenchijin,” is the Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu core curriculum. It’s from these techniques that all your other martial arts training is built upon.
The curriculum is broken up into three main sections:
Ten Ryaku no Maki (book of the principles of heaven)
Chi Ryaku no Maki (book of the principles of earth)
Jin Ryaku no Maki (book of the principles of man)
In co-ordination with the Bujinkan theme of the year (Kihon Happo), we spent Saturday’s workshop focusing on the Ten Ryaku no Maki. The basics of the basics.
Everyone gained a new perspective on just how difficult the fundamentals are when trying to do them properly without cheating to make up for our own lack of skill.
You have to realize the importance of putting in the effort to do the basics correctly so that when you are under the extreme stress of a self defense situation you won’t crumble under the pressure. Your skill in the fundamentals is what keeps you safe and healthy. It’s what allows you to survive.
The Martial Art of Daily Life
In your day to day life, there is constant pressure and many different stresses attacking you from all angles all day long.
- Deadlines to meet at work and bills to pay.
- The work you have to put into your relationships (your significant other is always in a good mood and does everything for you, right?)
- The kids have the flu and there are chores to do at the house
- And information overload from TV, radio, email, and social media
How do you deal with it all? How do you not crumble under the pressure? Do you try to escape it by watching a movie or getting out of the house to go have a beer with a buddy?
And I bet while you’re watching that movie and having that beer, in the back of your mind, the lingering task you put off is there. That lingering task distracting you from really enjoying your movie or your beer. Just sitting there building up more dread and more stress. And you know that while you ignore the task it only gets bigger and harder to finish. Sound familiar?
Get back to the fundamentals. The essentials.
Distractions are the Mothers of Stress
Cut out the things you don’t need. Cut out the distractions that keep you from doing what’s necessary.
You’ve certainly felt that relief of being finished up with work. No worries about what’s around the corner. True relaxation!
Stress Management System
The key is to figure out a stress management system that works for you to get everything accomplished. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a list of only necessary tasks that need to be taken care of daily, once a week, once a month, etc. Then make a log that you can hang on the fridge for house chores, a log in the car for scheduled maintenance, a log at your desk for work deadlines, an exercise log. A systematic method. You get the idea.
- Automate anything you can so that you don’t have to remember to do it. A huge source of stress for many people is getting bills paid on time. Set up your bills to be delivered to you via email, then get in the habit of paying the bill as soon as you receive it. Same with bills sent via snail mail.
- Avoid overloading yourself. A common mistake is to try to get everything done all at once so that you’ll have loads of time to relax. That never actually happens. A jack-in-the-box moment always comes. Then nothing actually gets done. Pace yourself, then the jack-in-the-box moments will only be a slight variation from the normal form. Also be sure to make time for rest! Rest is a part of training and essential to healthy living!
- Physical exercise is one of the best ways to combat mental stress. And you already know that martial arts training is one of the best ways to accomplish both. Plus you’ll have a good time training.
The idea is to create a system, or a kata in a sense, that does a lot of the work for you. The system will help you to free your mind of distractions and stress, and also allow you to get the necessary items of the day completed. Then, when the work of the day is done, you can truly relax, rest, and actually enjoy that beer.
What time/stress management tips and tricks have worked for you? Post your ideas in the comments.
Photos courtesy of Rebecca Morrow.
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