The Ever Changing Moment
Have you ever noticed while you are training that sometimes your mind is on what you are doing, your kamae, your movement or which hand you are supposed to be using and at these times you lose track of the attacker and get caught off guard. Then there are other times when you are focused on the steps of the technique and trying to make it work and you find yourself forgetting your kamae and end up using muscular force. You seem to be caught in a paradoxical situation.
If you pay attention to you, you lose focus on the attacker and your goals but if you pay attention to them or the steps of the technique you can lose your perception of you and be out of kamae. Your focus and perception in a fight can usually only handle one thing at a time. So what is the one thing we need to focus on that contains everything but goes by so quick as to feel like nothing at all?
The answer is the moment, now, that has just changed to now and so on. Focus on the moment is the only way to perceive everything that must be considered without focusing on any one part of it. You, the attacker, and the surroundings are all contained in the moment.
Think of it like the little animation flip books. You draw a slightly different picture on each of the pieces of paper and then when you flip through the pages the picture becomes animated and seems to move. Each page is a moment in time and space, just like the moments in a fight or while practicing a kata in your training. The more moments you can see the more understanding you will have.
There is a scene in movie I like that for me captures this feeling:
Jean-Luc Picard: Did your people’s mental discipline develop here?
Anij: More questions, always the explorer. If you stay long enough, that will change.
Jean-Luc Picard: Will it?
Anij: You stop reviewing what happened yesterday. Stop planning for tomorrow. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever experienced a perfect moment in time?
Jean-Luc Picard: A perfect moment?
Anij: When time seemed to stop, and you could almost live in that moment.
Jean-Luc Picard: Seeing my home planet from space for the first time.
Anij: Yes, exactly. Nothing more complicated than perception. You explore the universe. We’ve discovered that a single moment in time can be a universe in itself, full of powerful forces. Most people aren’t aware enough of the now to even notice.
Jean-Luc Picard: I wish I could spare a few centuries to learn.
Anij: It took us centuries to learn that it doesn’t have to take centuries to learn.
Star Trek: Insurrection (Paramount Pictures, 1998)
If you find the perception of gravity in your body and the use of it to move your body through space you are on your way to understanding the power of kamae. If your perception of goals has moved you away from memorized movements and robotic repetition you are on your way to understanding the power of intent. If you can learn to perceive the ever changing moment of now you are on your way to discovering powerful forces and martial arts mastery.