I was doing some WKFA research recently and came across this article written by Sigung Bob for the September 2000 newsletter. Much of this still rings true today and you will, coincidentally, see some elements reflected in Sigung Dave’s column. This month marks the 15th anniversary of Sigung’s passing.
By Sigung Bob Schneider
“Over the summer I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what it is that I do, and why and with whom I do it. In our new brochure there is a mission statement that declares, “Kung Fu will work…if you will work; and WKFA will show you how!” That pretty much sums up why I started teaching Kung Fu; first at another school, and then ultimately at my own. I wanted to share what had been a thoroughly challenging, frustrating, painful, slow, demanding, (did I mention frustrating and slow yet?) never-ending process with other worthy and like-minded masochists.”
“What’s the good news in all of this? Simply that it is a never-ending process that has been the most exhilarating and rewarding experience of my life. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. Should it be for everyone? Absolutely not. In these days of mass marketing and infomercial propaganda, I want to continue teaching only those students who have an appreciation of the unparalleled benefits that can be gained through dedicated Kung Fu training.”
“On the fiscal side of things, we have the best location and facility around and therefore need a certain income to keep it operating and healthy. Will I sacrifice the standards of the school to improve our “bottom line”? I haven’t so far. In fact, as you should all realize by now my ongoing commitment is to make standards even higher. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the students past and present for allowing me to share this endless kung-fu journey with you and hope to continue for years to come.”
Perfection: Attribute or Curse?
By Sigung Bob Schneider
“When we insist on being “perfect”, one of two things usually happens—we don’t start something because we believe we can’t do it perfectly, or we start only to quit soon thereafter because we are not achieving “perfection” quickly enough.”
“That is one of the major challenges about the practice of martial arts. “Kung-fu” literally means “time; work; skill, technique.” This very definition is both alluring and at the same time daunting to the perfectionist. Perfectionists are drawn to activities that are precise, aesthetically appealing while intellectually and physically challenging.”
“If we look again at the definition of kung fu, we don’t see the words fast, easy or perfect anywhere. What we can interpret from it is that if one works hard over a long period of time they will have achieved skill in their techniques. Just how long? As long as it takes.”
“While striving to do one’s best is always admirable (and is an attainable goal), demanding perfection (something that is in reality impossible to achieve) tends to be counterproductive. Adopting a perfectionist mind-set is often based on “all-or-nothing” thinking, that is, it’s perfect or it’s nothing. While I confess to using the word perfect in class occasionally, in truth what I mean is, excellent.”
“We better serve ourselves when we give ourselves an internal pat on the back for regularly showing up for class and putting in an honest effort than the insistence on, and subsequent pressure and disappointment of perfectionism.”