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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » Control Freaks

Control Freaks

Martial artists are, by their very nature, control freaks. They seek to have control over their opponents in a fight situation. For example: Kick a target causing the opponent to fall a certain direction or pin an arm this way to check off the rest of his body. But before you can control the opponent, you have to first control yourself.

Kenpoists are Control Freaks

Kenpoists are Control Freaks

Controlling yourself must be done physically and mentally.

Physical self control – Basics. Basics. Basics. Practice. Practice. Practice. To move quickly with power and fluidity requires hours upon hours of drills and practice. What’s more, the Kenpo system is built upon layers of understanding the principles of motion. You can’t learn flashy spin moves without first mastering your stance. Mastering the stances takes thousands of repetitions. This is also true for building blocks into parries into double parries and so forth. The same process continues in order to turn strikes into double strikes and further into combination attacks. Control of your motion is built in increments and practiced continuously.

Physical control is also practiced for delivering power and accuracy in blocks or strikes. We start out slow focusing on striking the correct targets. Only then is additional power introduced. Speed becomes the third component once accuracy and power are firmly established. Ge the flow down first, then add the power. Another reason to start slow is to protect training partners from getting blasted. But be careful not to develop the bad habit of pulling your strikes. Muscle memory can be wrongly created to not make contact. In a fight or flight situation you will react as you practice. Therefore, pick the correct targets, add power, add speed, practice, and repeat.

Mental self control – Willpower. Discipline. Patience. To control your mind in martial arts, you must have the willpower to make yourself put in the necessary practice time. Discipline is needed to focus on the task, drill, and moment at hand. It also takes discipline and willpower to force yourself to relax and breath in intense situations (both on and off the mat). And finally it takes patience to allow all of these factors to come together. Nothing of this magnitude happens quickly.

There will come a point in your karate journey where you will be confronted by a fool shooting his mouth off. You’ll think somebody needs to teach this person a lesson. He may even be trying to incite you into action. Right here, you must have the mental control to not take his head off (even though you really want to). With great power comes great responsibility. You have to know your martial arts abilities would allow you to likely win if the first punch is thrown but the damage you could cause outweighs the verbal jabs he’s throwing. You know you could do it, so there’s no need to prove it to anyone else. Walk away and move on. While a very hard mental step to take, it’s the ultimate in control. Mastery of the art comes when the tiger is seen but the dragon (wisdom) prevails.

Anyone practicing martial arts wants to be the guy who moves like lightning, strikes hard, and makes it looks easy. But it’s not easy to become a YouTube highlight reel like that. It takes years of learning control of your own body; physically and mentally. But when you do, the confidence you’ll feel will make it an awesome sight to behold.

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Hat tip to Tyson.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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