I suppose there are more than a few martial arts nerds who know that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the famous basketball player, was also a martial arts student of innovator Bruce Lee.
I’m not a Bruce Lee fan-boy, to be honest, though I appreciate many of his accomplishments. It is actually through Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that my favorite details about Bruce Lee came from an old interview I remember about his former teacher that was taken shortly after Bruce Lee’s death.
He spoke about Bruce Lee’s idea, one I agree on, that everyone could benefit from martial arts training to become their best. Then he went on to specify the difference. A lot of people think that whatever they do, whatever is comfortable for them, that is their best, but Bruce Lee wanted to push everyone to be the best they could possibly be.
Your best is not the point at which you get out of breath, or your muscles start to wobble. Your best is somewhere past the point of easy comfort. It lies a thousand hours of effort past that point.
But so does injury. I crippled myself pushing past what my body could sustain when I was in my twenties, and it has changed what I could do for the rest of my life.
So I’m not going to cite Navy Seal training or talk about their 40% rule. Military folks are in great shape, but they also have a fresh supply of people to replace the folks they wear out. We only have one body, and one shot to use it well in this world.
One of the great tricks in martial arts as well as in life is to find the place beyond the boundary of comfort and ease, without going so far into that wilderness we get an injury that will never let us come back.
I won’t define that for you. I can’t. I don’t have your body, your limitations, or your abilities. I am working hard on my own.
Krav Maga has the ethic that everyone trains every day. In that system we know we pushed too hard when we can’t train tomorrow. In Tae Kwon Do training was 2-3 times a week, and it was expected to rest and recover between a much more intense workout (an hour of Judo followed by ninety minutes of Tae Kwon Do for the advanced students). I was frequently sore from the previous class when I bowed in the next time, but again the principle was that if I was too sore to train I had over done things.
I only know that we cannot settle for complacency. It is my privilege to work with everyone at Northwind Martial Arts LLC as we push forward together to figure out what that place looks like as individuals and as a martial arts family.