We often miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~ Thomas Edison.
As a child, I watched Sunday morning kungfu theater and awed at their elegant effortlessness of their advanced movements. To lift myself from the toil of constant violence, I began searching for martial arts instruction.
Each class I visited lacked any of these advanced techniques. So, I took entrance exams to be enrolled at University. There, I found champions, and immediately entered their competition training. Compared to my early training, this was much harder, yet again, nothing but basic, mundane repetition.
So, I acquired my passport, visas and (after agreeing with them to stop competing until they finished training me) invitations to train abroad with the direct inheritors and founders of martial art styles. To my amazement, they offered me nothing but simple drills to perform (over and over again). Assuming I needed to earn their trust as the first foreigner to study with them, I put my nose down and kept practicing, patiently awaiting the “advanced stuff.”
Years passed. It never came (to my awareness.)
They awarded me with a license from their government as the first American to be qualified to teach. TEACH? But I hadn’t learned anything advanced yet. But maybe this was their price: share what I had learned. So, I began teaching what I had learned: simple, basic, mundane, boring drills. Over and over again, I taught them to different people from different backgrounds, cultures, nations, purposes…
I entered competition again, and something strange happened for a few brief moments. I wasn’t quite sure of what. I reviewed the tapes; yet it still didn’t make sense.
Returning to training, I focused on movements which seemed to come out in performance with a high degree of efficiency. I didn’t know what to do other than practice the same simple drills, just more more mindfully so I could observe and perhaps reproduce the effect.
Back into another competition… even greater efficiency erupted… back into training again, and again. When I returned to competition, at world championships, something miraculous happened…
Effortlessness happened, and I was fully conscious while it unfolded. It felt non-corporeal. I had to step out of its way. When I tried to apply something tricky, cunning or advanced, it interrupted the phenomenon each time. But every time, I didn’t tamper with the effect, and concentrated on my “basics,” it erupted.
Until that time, it had remained a dubious suspicion, but the ostensible proof validated it without doubt. My teachers had ALWAYS been sharing with me the “advanced” techniques. It’s just that they were dressed in basics and appeared mundane and repetitious.
Thank you to my teachers, for never giving up on my obstinate passion… especially to General Alexander Ivanovich Retuinskih. Without you, I would have remained lost, and would have never discovered that the key ingredient to effortlessness is consistent, sustained, mundane, repetitious effort.