I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.Bruce Lee
I noticed that my exercise habits usually break during Ramadan and that I have to spend quite a while afterwards regaining it. At the end of the day, muscles require nutrition to repair itself after exercise so it makes little sense for me to continue during the month if I’m not eating or drinking anything. However, the fact that I break that habit of exercising isn’t healthy for me either, so this Ramadan I tried to find a way to keep it alive.
I wanted a way of exercising that wasn’t intense, and so after some thought I considered focusing on flexibility because this can prevent injury. That lead to the idea that instead of focusing on intensity, I could instead focus on what it means to have technique. That lead me to look up martial arts videos on YouTube (Wing Chun specifically) because I’ve heard that a lot of it requires technique in order to execute. This doesn’t replace live lessons from a teacher of course, but at the end of the day I was after keeping a habit alive more so than anything else.
Alhamdulillah, I found it really interesting to see how form could change everything. Even in the simplest lessons like punching and kicking, you might think that stronger muscles might lead to better punches, but when I moved slowly, I could see where my technique was restricting me. Like when I did a static kick, I could tell that when I raised my leg, I began to lose balance. Noticing that, I focused my attention on making sure that if I kick then I’m stable throughout. I’d consider how different movements would make me feel in order to get a good idea of the most comfortable way of kicking. Every now and again I’d get restless and try to kick fast just to see how it felt like, but I eventually realised that by stabilising my balance, my kicks felt far stronger than before–with less effort. So too did my confidence in ability increase, motivating me to do more.
What was just as interesting was the change in my mindset. If I focused on intensity, I thought about how well I could do that one kick, restless to move onto another. In contrast, when I focused on technique and practiced it repeatedly, I began thinking about how I could manipulate this kick in different situations. I found this so enlightening because I realised that the latter was promoting creativity.
It got me thinking. You can see this anywhere, from the most basic things to the most complex. Complex algebraic equations require a solid understanding of algebra. You struggle to run if you struggle to walk. Someone who knows ten thousand kicks might not be able to use any of them at all.
I believe that when Bruce Lee said that he feared the one who practiced one kick ten thousand times, it wasn’t only because it was going to hurt more and have a higher chance of being successfully executed, it was also because that one kick when honed became unique to the individual, unpredictable and so significantly more difficult for the one receiving it to defend against. From this reflection and others I’ve considered, it seems as that potential rests within strength, and creativity and diversity rests within technique. The stronger you are, the more you can go for, but it’s within technique that you can learn to effectively make use of that strength and open up an entirely different world of opportunities.
And your Lord inspired to the bee, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and that which they construct. (68) Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down.” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colours, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought. (69)Quran 16:68-69
Do you recognise this relationship between strength and technique within your own lives, and if so, how? Likewise, feel free to share your perspective if you see it differently from the way I do. After all, maybe there’s a better explanation than what I’ve provided.