How to Get More of What You Desire by Doing More of What You Know
Musician: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”
Cabbie: “Practice, practice, practice.”
An old joke for sure, but in that pithy response lies a simple truth. To get anywhere in life, you need to practice. But what to practice, you ask? The answer is simple. FUNDAMENTALS!
No matter what you study, what you do for a living, or what you do for a hobby, if you don’t practice the fundamentals of your area of interest, you will never excel in it or master it.
Fundamentals: The Basics
Fundamentals are those core activities that lay the foundation for everything that we learn and do. In school, we learn the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic. To be a Chef, you learn about food preparation, flavors, and cooking techniques. A physician learns the fundamentals of the human body like the skeletal structure and the internal organs. A software developer learns about logic and data structures.
How important are fundamentals? Would you trust a Chef to make a souffle if they haven’t been trained on the basics of combining eggs and milk to make a souffle rise? Would you have a Doctor operate on you if she wasn’t up to date on the latest surgical techniques?
Of course not!
How about a Doctor who doesn’t continue his study of human illnesses, or a Police Officer who doesn’t continually shoot targets, or a Firefighter who doesn’t practice putting out fires? They certainly won’t improve in their given fields and can be an impairment to themselves and others. How good would a musician be if they didn’t practice their scales?
Fundamentals as Tai Chi Chuan Application
Tai Chi Chuan is no different. When you start training, you learn basic stances, basic breathing exercises, and basic movements. These make up the foundation of what you practice. The better you become in your fundamentals, the better you’ll be able to do the “advanced stuff.” As you continue your training, returning to your fundamentals from time to time will reinforce what you’ve already learned and help you
understand more complex movements. The more you’re able to do, the more that you’ll grow in mind, body, and spirit, and the more benefits you’ll experience.
Practicing our fundamentals can seem boring for some people. Oddly enough, doing the same thing over and over to improve the movement or technique doesn’t appeal to most people who expect things to happen instantly. Knowledge can happen in an instant, but understanding takes time, persistence, and patience. Once you understand the movement, or the technique, or the posture, then you can apply that understanding to other areas of your practice.
And don’t think for an instant that when you gain that understanding there is nothing more to learn in that movement or technique. Quite the opposite. There are many layers to each element of our training. Understanding one layer just reveals another layer underneath. There’s always more to learn and more to experience.
Fundamentals as Life Lesson
Practicing our fundamentals in Tai Chi Chuan has very practical applications in our daily life. In our job, and even our hobbies, there are basic actions and principles that, when we master them, lay the groundwork for continued training, understanding and advancement. What fundamentals can you practice that will improve your job and your daily life?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons