Well, it’s been another week of school, training, and mulling over both of those things. What have I learnt? That it’s still far, far too easy for me to succumb to the fault of over-training. At the beginning of the week, I stepped lightly back into practice and decided to make a concerted effort to remain at the form level with my force training and pattern practice, even going so far as to omit certain portions of my training or to not do as many repetitions. The result? Still over-training.
Mental dullness, the notion that I was slogging through my practice, and exhaustion. I was able to perform well enough during school and work, but outside of the hospital, I was a mental wreck. A part of the problem might be that I don’t have much of a “life” (and hence, avenues through which to expend energy) outside of school, so I’m essentially just sitting studying or on the internet outside of work/school and practice. Go figure. Decided to sign up for Argentine tango lessons at a local school, we’ll see where that takes me.
I was having my favorite dish at a Chinese restaurant earlier tonight when I made a little linguistic jump and thought that over-training was like eating too much good food. Noodles and pork are great, but attempting to eat the massive portions provided by the restaurant in one sitting would be doomed to failure. Even if everything was scarfed down in one sitting, well, let’s just say the food wouldn’t stay in my body for very long! “Moderation in all things” seems like prudent advice to follow.
Frankly, I’ve been feeling annoyed at my practice hitting me with these symptoms of over-training. I really do enjoy the practice itself, as I’ve come to enjoy expressing myself through movement (anyone who’s met me knows I’m not exactly a very vocal person; it occurs to me that many of my heroes from spiritual writings and literature have been rather quiet; e.g. Ogion the Silent from The Wizard of Earthsea). Might be that I have to find some other way to express my desire for movement, hence the tango lessons. It’s mentally bothersome, especially with advice from past masters such as Sigung Ho’s exhortation to “practice [One Finger Shooting Zen] everyday, even after you have become a master,” but I don’t want to wind up with bad effects, after all. I’ve heard too many horror stories of people who wrecked themselves through their practice. A friend of mine personally knows, for example, a Muai Thai champion in Singapore who has to take pain medication just to sleep at night thanks to many years of kicking at poles and trees, and that champion is only in their thirties.
It may be that I’ll be putting dedicated force training exercises like One Finger Shooting Zen, Golden Bridge, and Lifting Water aside for a while and just practicing combat sequences and sets. Over the coming week, I’ll begin with Lohan Asks the Way and gradually reintegrate the material of the other basic Shaolin sets to my daily practice. I still can’t believe that I was triggering over-training symptoms with just the Art of Flexible Legs (didn’t even think that was possible). I wouldn’t be surprised if my training weekend with David back at the end of 2015 cleared some blockages and I’m going through a stage of cleansing at this time; back about two years ago, I was easily practicing One Finger Shooting Zen, the Horse Riding Stance, or Baguazhang force training for a half hour or more.
One person told me a bit about their experience using One Finger Shooting Zen for spiritual matters, which was interesting. Again, that sort of thing isn’t necessarily a part of my day-to-day, so it’s always fun to hear about. It’s always a pleasure to hear and experience the fact that our training carries over to other aspects of our lives.