You probably know the symbol at the center of the Korean flag as Yin and Yang. Those are the Chinese words for the concept that could be defined as “Universal Balance”. In Korean, they are known as Um and Yang and those are the words we use in class.
Light and dark, male and female, hard and soft, chaos and order; the idea is that the universe exists in a state of balance between opposing forces. Without one, we wouldn’t truly understand the other.
The circles in the um/yang symbol remind us that growth and decay are cyclical. Improvement cannot continue uninterrupted by rest. Just like a martial art form, the balance promised in the um/yang is balance in motion.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to evaluate the balance in your life. Look at your training and performance over the past year and decide where to focus your efforts. Of course, your instructor helps with that, but it’s good to be in the habit of taking responsibility for your own training. If you are in the process of testing for Blackbelt, your goals are pretty much already in black and white. Other students or even non-martial artists should evaluate their physical condition and progress (or lack of) in the previous year and set up some tangible and achievable goals.
I’ve talked in the past about “practicing” your martial art rather than just “doing” it, but I want to take a moment to touch on it again.
I encourage my students to rework their mental paradigm for everything in their life from doing to practicing. We do things that we already know. We practice things that need improvement. You should have the outlook that everything in your life can be improved.
Practice also implies that you are conscious of what you are doing. When we unconsciously just do things, or worse, mindlessly listen to music or watch television, we lose valuable opportunities for growth, improvement, and enrichment. When you are practicing martial art, you should focus on practicing, not on music or talking.
Use this paradigm shift on your daily chores and you’ll cultivate a deeper awareness of the things around you. Practice getting dressed in the morning. Practice brushing your teeth. If you are stuck in traffic (while you practice your forms or techniques in your mind) practice keeping your temper in check.
When you practice mohm puhlki, you open your body and mind and get ready to practice martial art. When every chore or exercise becomes an experiment in becoming the best possible person or martial artist, you’ll have the chance to make this your best year ever.
I received a text from Su Suhk Kwahn Jahng Nim Suh at the beginning of the year with an assignment to practice my weapons forms this year. I’m going to practice my weapons forms a total of 2016 times by the end of the year.
I’m passing that on to my students as well. Even though we’re a couple of weeks into the new year, you still have plenty of time to practice your forms 2016 times before next New Years Eve. Send me an email and let me know how you’re doing.