Episode 11: What Is Real Training?
In this episode of the Martial Art of Self podcast, we discuss the concept and action of training. We ask the question of what real training is. Is training only limited and applicable to martial arts, fitness, sports and other applications that exercise the body and mind in superficial ways?
Training is synonymous with practice, application, and living. Thus to practice, apply and live something over and over again until it integrates as part of ourselves, as a new way or state of being.
Here I touch on how I have copied the definitions and understandings of the word and action we call training from others and settled on that. With that acceptance, I closed myself off from entering a deeper relationship of understanding and application of the word and concept of training.
I talk about my process of learning more about what training really is, where and how it applies, as well as giving some distinct examples of how I have lived it practically to help communicate my understanding of what training is as I have come to understand it for me through a process of self-investigation and self-introspection.
Music by Fidelis Spies
[00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.
[00:12] Hi everyone, this is Aldin, and in today’s episode we are talking about what is real training.
[00:20] So, today I would like to discuss the word and concept of training. For a very long time I would only associate the word training to exercising like going to the gym to work out, doing sports, exercising for sports, exercising one’s muscles, one’s tendons, one’s bones, one’s bodily structure, and going to one’s martial arts class and doing the practice and exercises thereof, and so on.
[00:49] So, it would mainly be associated to actions and movements that focus on the body only, and there also primarily only the exterior part, or the superficial part of the body which we mostly associate with strength, with power and fitness – which is the muscles and one’s bodily shape – how one essentially looks like.
[01:18] But, I have come to understand, and to realize for myself that training is so much more than just that.
[01:29] Mostly, for me and for many others, we associate and connect training and the word training to external exercises and movements that build the body like muscles, power, speed, appearance only, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that within and as the word training are many more deeper levels, meanings and expressions than just that which I for myself, for example, have come to understand of the word and expression and concept of training, that I have mainly built through hearing it from others in this world, and throughout my life, and it being taught to me by others in this world who have fallen, I would say, victim to the same trap as the ones before them. Meaning in limiting the word and expression and concept and action we call ‘training’ to mainly only the building of physical muscle, the building of a egotistical or of a ego-based ‘toughness’, a mental and emotional ‘state’ of ‘being tough’ and feeling, or being, or seeing ourselves, or thinking of ourselves as superior and being essentially arrogant – and so have mostly only copied the understanding and definition of the word, concept and movements, the expression that is training from others and so also have only accepted training to be, for ourselves, to be mostly mainly focused only on the building of superficial aspects, of superficial states and superficial characteristics of the body and of the self.
[03:36] Where, for myself I have seen that I have thought, believed and defined the word, concept, movement, expression and action of training as only the building, expanding and creation of superficial aspects of my body and of my individuality, of myself, if you will – such as the building muscles, the building speed, the building martial arts technique, becoming mentally or emotionally ‘tough’ as in ‘not giving a fuck’ about others, or what they say, or think of me, and so on in my life, my choices and decisions, as basically what I do and how I live, and having through that an appearance of ‘toughness’ and of ‘solidity’, if you will that I associated with my wish for perceiving myself and being perceived by others as strong, powerful and a force not to be reckoned with, if you will, or taken advantage of or otherwise emotionally or mentally hurt or attempted to be hurt by and through others.
[04:54] I haven’t accepted and I haven’t allowed myself to look deeper into the word, concept, movement, expression, and action that is training for myself, instead of copying it from others, and find for myself what it truly is and what it truly means. What is the training for me? And so to see, to understand the depth and breadth of the word training and that training stretches across all parts of my life in everything I do. Meaning that training is synonymous to practice, living and application and so training, I have come to understand, is the practice, living, and application of a movement or of an expression that I do in the physical reality. And that physical doing of that application, that action that I do is the training, is the practicing, and is the teaching myself and the teaching my body and the teaching my mind a new way of living and being towards something or someone.
[06:16] For example, let’s take an example when for example, let’s say I used to get mad and angry and express that anger in an unpleasant and not so nice ways with words and behaviors towards someone in my past, but now I worked on myself, and now I take a deep breath and slow myself down, and instead of blowing out and exploding in anger towards someone and maybe even hurting them physically, or emotionally through my words and behaviors I first calm myself down through, let’s say, breathing, I look at the point that irritates me within myself and see how and where did I contribute to it and how and where can I correct and change this which contributed to it inside myself first, and then I do that, or if I am unable I remove myself simply from the situation till I calm myself down actively. Actively working on calming myself down through breathing, and writing, or journaling, or talking it out with someone, and if I see I will be unable to in this short period of time of this moment of interaction, and reaction to this person or thing to get myself again to be stable within myself, and know and see that I will likely end up exerting my emotional anger onto something or someone and create consequences most likely for me and the other — and then I remove myself till I calm myself down. This very different approach to this situation of, in this example, me being and reacting in anger to something IS training. Meaning that I am training myself, I am training my mind and I am training my body to live and be in ‘different’ states, if you will, and different relationships and different approaches to for example reacting to a situation or person in anger because let’s say, they did something that is one of my pet peeves.
[08:28] Or, another example is — let’s take an example of training: To understand that it is also training when I am let’s say doing a Taiji standing exercise, and I am 20 minutes into it out of let’s say 25 minutes total, and I still have 5 minutes to go, and I start tensing up and I start holding my bodily muscles and my structure — my structure tenses up, but I know within myself from my teachings, and the teachings that I follow that the point of this exercise is — that there is a great emphasize on to relax, sink, and let go under pressure and under tension.
[09:17] But within myself what I feel is I just want to flex, I want to tense up, I want to hold myself tense for I feel and know that it’s going to be easier for me to pull through the last 5 minutes this way, and that if I do it in this tensed up state and in this tensed up way I will feel less challenged within myself physically and mentally, and the remaining 5 minutes will be a lot hell easier – but then I decide to honor my self-honest understanding that the governing — of knowing that the governing, or an important principle of this exercise is to bring myself back into and hold myself in a state of relaxing, sinking and letting go even and especially while under physically tension and pressure when for example lactic acid starts building up in my thigh muscles, as an example, or my shoulders and arms start becoming really tired from holding them statically in mid air for this whole time, and they — it feels like they just want to drop and then they start tensing more and more to hold up the position physically.
[10:31] So, to in that moment honor the principles and teachings that I follow, and what I know and what I understanding and have learned and realized self-honestly and which is now my self-honesty in my knowing. And so I breathe, I center myself inside myself and inside my body and I push myself within myself to hold me in my being, in my person, if you will, stable. Then I emphasize inside me and focus on the quality and application of relaxing, sinking and letting go of the emotional and feeling reactions of tension, anger, irritation, — what else come up.. despair, whining, complaining, wanting to give up, self-defeat, judgment, inner backchat, or inner chit chat of wanting to just give up, thoughts and backchat of nastiness towards myself and the exercise, and anger towards me and the exercise. All thoughts of such nature, and so on I let go, I relax, I breathe, I don’t allow and accept them to govern me, and govern this moment, and for me to give into them, and I actively instead apply the action of sinking, relaxing and letting go WITHIN being tense, within the state of it feeling physically, and in my being, in my person, in my mind of being tense, and shaky, and where it feels like I and my body and my mind are just so unstable right now, but they are not. I am not. It’s, in fact, my reactions from my mind that are like a filter and make they make it SEEM like that only, but it’s not in fact that state, and then I breathe and I focus on the principles instead, on the qualities instead, and the applications of those principles of sinking, relaxing and letting go under pressure and under tension, in this example, and I remain like that for the last 5 minutes in the Taiji position focusing on deliberately relaxing, letting go and sinking till it’s over, till I am done with the exercise the last 5 minutes of this example.
[13:10] That right there is also TRAINING. It is me training myself, training my person, training my being and through that showing — through that ‘training myself’, being an example, and so showing by example to my body and to my mind the new approach, the new response and the new relationship that I want to have towards, let’s say, tension and pressure and hardship, difficulties and something just being challenging physically or mentally, and I am practicing over and over till it becomes integrated and till it becomes the new relationship that I have. This, in fact, I am programming myself new, if you will. Actively, in my own directive way where I decide how I would like to program myself and be like towards something or someone.
[14:12] And obviously, this training, this concept, this expression, this action of training has nothing to do with martial arts only. It is not a martial arts quality necessarily. Its origin is not martial arts or fitness or sports. It is not owned by those things. I find that this, the training, that this is a nature of life. It is to live. That the nature of life, in my understanding so far, is to live, and training is practice, is application, is doing, and thus applying, practicing and doing is living, is the application, the expression, the practicality of living, and what it means to live. In this sense to train is to live and to live is to train. That training as living, as practice, as application, as doing in this sense, and understanding touches every part of our lives. Inside the gym, inside the martial arts class, but most importantly in so many ways outside of it all. It is here in every moment of our daily living, and so we have to train daily. For to train daily is to live daily actively on our own terms and our own principles, and to do that is the process of self-creation. Otherwise we are always only products of someone else’s plan, while there is lots of room still to create our own plan and create ourselves and our own life while still being in this world, in this limited world, if you will that is governed currently by certain universal, but also man-made laws and constraints. That there is still a lot of room for self-creation, for living on our own terms, and being and doing and living in a way that is the best for us, and to bring out the best of us, to create the best of us as a person that we potentially have and could be in this lifetime.
[16:39] So, I would say let’s train well, and let’s live well daily, and never skip a day. For training is far more than just exercise of for example the martial arts training, or fitness, or sports, or something else. So much more. It is everyday living, and how we live towards something or someone. So, let’s train well. Let’s live well.
[17:06] Thank you, I will see you in the next episode.
[17:10] Thank you for listening to the Martial Art of Self podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Martial Art of Self, please visit martialartofself.com