Monday, August 22, 2011

Common Success Traits for Wujifa Practitioners

There are a few common traits found in people who successfully make gains in the practices of Wujifa, internal martial arts and life in general. I remember I was once on a construction project team that met weekly and someone said these meetings are boring and are not needed. Quickly the project manager smiled and said, “If these meetings are boring that’s a good sign. We are doing something right.” I personally find project management and process an interesting subject although I can understand why some would find it a bit dull. The same tricks can really make the difference in your training and practice.

I hope some of you will find it interesting and employ in your practices some of these common traits of people who are continually making successful gains with their skill sets. It’s funny the similarities in the project management field and the ways people work toward their goals. There are people whose jobs run fairly smooth because they methodically track and troubleshoot (which costs more in investment of time) and those who never seem to have their projects under control and are racing around at the last minute to put out yet another fire. Hopefully you will you take the time to find what works best for your personal progress.

Education - Educate Yourself

What does it mean to have gotten a real education? Taking action and seeing for yourself this is what getting a real education is all about. You must do something, noticing what the results are, and compare this to what results you had as your goal. As you can see a real education is very different than information. 

Many people collect data and can tell you a lot about something that they have never personally done. Knowing means “what you can actually do” not the data you can spew forth. Being able to do something is call educating yourself. Make sure to check your results against your personal goals. I have seen many a person get sidetracked into an education that they really didn’t want to learn about. 

The example of the person knowing the movements to yet another Taiji sword form is nothing but a lot of data if what you wanted to learn is how to develop internal strength. A sword form may help and then again it may not depending on the results you are seeking. Then again, the question becomes, “Why you are learning yet another movement or form?” 

Being clear on what you’re doing and why is one of the best ways of educating yourself and getting everything an education can offer.

Another good point I’d like to share about education is to really aim at getting the “more” correct feeling of what you are doing. Getting the feeling of what you’re doing is a better type of education and will help guide your practice and actions much more clearly. 

As an example, I remember asking questions to various masters and teachers I have worked with over the years like, “What is peng?“ or “What is wuji?“ and “What is sinking the qi?“ and when the teacher started talking about it I would politely stop and ask, “Can you show me how to get it in my body?” 

As you can see I wasn’t that interested in the words and actually, their words were often very different from how I might explain it so getting the feeling is a more direct education and helped me to be able to do it better myself afterwards. 

Ask them to show you how it’s done in your body. Keep questions simple and direct, action and kinesthetically oriented. This will really help you make progress. Sometimes a teacher’s linage is such that they share stories and data. If that is the case, then take responsibility to bring that back to practical and functional practices to help you get to your goal and a real education.

Focus on the Fundamentals

Most every high level master or practitioner I have met all have one thing in common and that is, practicing the basics. The basics are seemingly simple fundamental skill sets that carryover to everything else they do.

In internal martial arts, some call the basic skill set internal strength or internal movement. How do they develop these in different arts? An example of basics in Chen Style Taiji practice might be silk reeling. Bagua’s “Tain Gan” could be another example of primary drills. Xingyi and Santi is another basic you’ll see high level practitioners engaging in their whole life.

Why do highly skilled practitioners practice fundamental exercises? You get the biggest bang for your buck there. So many people can’t wait to learn something new when they haven’t taken the time to really understand the basics of their art. It’s also sad to say that many teachers may have caved in to that or may have forgotten the importance of the basics because selling forms makes them more money. Be responsible and return to the basics and focus on the fundamentals.


Finding a good training partner or partners can be even harder than finding a good wife as I have written about before. Finding people who are testing and educating themselves in what they are doing is a priceless part of really making progress. Having senior school brothers and sisters and access to high level practitioners who can help you notice what you may not notice is also huge. Being in a supportive environment that encourages and fosters real growth with those who take the time to help is important. Even if those who are helping are clumsy and just starting, their honest insights are what we’re looking for. If you don’t have a good community, then build one. It really helps to have at least a small support group of one or two people who can keep you honest and kick you in the butt when needed.

Do It Correctly - Don’t Just Do It (Even If You’re Doing It Wrong)

This is a big one, “Doing it correctly.” So many people seem to zone out after awhile and they just go through the motions of training. They have a routine down and then they shut their mind off. This is a big mistake. Stay awake and aim at doing it correctly. You may never do it perfectly but your focus is to do it correctly. Don’t over think it and don’t zone out. The point is to just stay focused. So even if you are doing something incorrectly, if you are learning, then you are doing it correctly. And that’s the key.

Remember as you repeatedly do something, in the process you develop neuro-pathways in the brain. Having a sharp mind is so very important. Really paying attention and staying focused and awake can help you develop those neuro-pathways. 

Over time this keen focus will become second nature and this is one of the common practices you’ll find in many high level practitioners. Aiming at doing it correctly keeps you open to the many opportunities for improvement. Yes you can over focus so that isn’t doing it correctly either. Simply aim to do it correctly. When you choose to practice it’s pretty simple. Doing it correctly is about paying attention without over-thinking. Remember the saying, “Analysis paralysis”. But if you zone-out, you are not exercising your mind either.

Track and Journal

When you become aware of something, it’s easier to adjust, manage and gain insights about it. This is the secret to journaling. Many people say, “I don’t need to do that. I can keep it in my head.” The truth is that it’s not that easy when you are trying to learn something new. There are many nuances and details that get forgotten over time. 

When I think about people who become highly successful or highly skilled, I think of people that kept notebooks of their thoughts and ideas and progress in learning. Many people don’t want to take the time to really journal and track what they do because it’s easier to live in the illusion of training rather than training to make real progress. But if you’re really honest about becoming successful, keep a notebook. Log and track. 

There’s a saying, “What is measured, gets managed.” I have found this to be true. Simply notice. In Wujifa we say that noticing changes everything. You start to adjust and change. Anything that helps you notice and change will bring you more on your path.