Sifu Rebecca Knapp, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

By Sifu Rebecca Knapp

Adult Student’s Corner

We live in a world of instant gratification. There was a time not long ago when we had to wait for just about everything. Dinner wasn’t instantly there. (no drive-through, delivery, or microwave). Information wasn’t at the tip of a button—answers took time—and sometimes many different sources—to find. When you shopped, you actually had to go to a store! Can you imagine?? J People had to wait for things; and wait they did.

Patience isn’t just about waiting though. It’s about fully experiencing the moment, staying completely present, and not focusing precious energy on what you want, or are striving for, but what you have RIGHT NOW. It’s about letting go, and recognizing that there’s no need to rush, no need to let your needs or desires consume your thoughts and energy, and that the beauty of everything is in the journey, not the destination. This last point in particular resonates for me in terms of my training in Kung Fu.

I get it—it’s easy to get focused on the goal. We have a ranking system that outlines requirements we need to meet, and we test for each level. As well, we have a large proportion of “competitive personalities”, shall we say. People often try to push through forms quickly in order to make the grading list. While having goals is important, you can easily forget that the quality of the achievement is only as good as the quality of the path there.

If you are rushing, if you are impatient, or not fully present in the moment, you also run the risk of missing valuable information.

You gain a lot more ground in your training when you stay in the now instead of focusing on what’s ahead. You give more energy to the present moment when you are not thinking about the next move or the last, but only the one you are doing at that point in time. You may find that if you train patiently, and don’t impose deadlines on when you will have “mastered” something, and instead just focus on learning, then it will come to you faster, more precisely, and with greater appreciation because you were 100% present to enjoy the process of getting there.

Ultimately, being patient in the martial arts is about calm endurance—it’s about giving yourself time to actively work towards a goal without setting a limit on how long you will work at it. The time limit itself restricts your progress and your productivity because the weight of it takes away energy and focus that could be given to the thing you are trying to accomplish in the first place. Learn to focus on the process of learning/doing the thing, not the completion of it. When you actually accomplish what you set out to do, it will be more gratifying because you were fully and completely THERE on every moment it took you to make your destination.