Always Practicing

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Awakening in the morning I see that the sun has not yet shown its face.  The sky is beginning to brighten, however.  I notice the moon is still out.  As I walk out my door and take my first outside breath I realize the humidity has dropped somewhat from the day before and there is a certain crispness to the air.  A thick coat of dew is on the ground and the grass is quite wet.  A bird is singing its good morning song in the tree on my left and two squirrels are already looking for their treasures in the grass on my right.  Above the roof of the complex the trees are ruffled by a slight southeastern breeze in the air.

Walking lightly toward the local park, it is mostly quiet. The few people that are up at this time are already rushing around.  Careful crossing the street.  What else do I see or hear?  To my left?  To my right?  Above?   On the ground?  Behind me?  In the park the blades of grass are sparkling from the reflection of the now rising sun.

Later in the day…

I get in my car to pick up something at the school and the hardware store.  While driving I see a woman walking with a child on the sidewalk to my right.  An elderly woman looking to cross the street up to the left.  As the light turns yellow there is a car coming to a stop at the intersection.  But wait, out of the corner of my eye another car speeds up, goes around the slowing car and continues through a now red light.  Such a rush.  The elderly woman looks upset.

Along the way I take notice of people on the sidewalks waiting for the buses.  Some dressed for work.  Maybe they work in Manhattan.   So many colors on all sides of me from cars to homes to the strip malls along the road.  Amazing how the trees envelope the town.  I visualize what it was like before the roads.  Some trees don’t look all that healthy.  Already no leaves at the tops of some.

At the hardware store…

An overweight man in the isle to my left looking down at something.  I check his arms and notice his posture and my position relative to him.  My posture… relaxed? properly aligned? settled? An elderly woman being checked out at the register.  I check her posture and the position of her arms.  The door opens behind me and in walks a young man with a cane in his left hand.   Injury I suppose.  He has a limp.  I check our relative positions.  While on line I focus on my breath.  Long, deep Filling Breaths.  Open and expand all parts of  my lungs. 

What the heck is all of this?

This is a typical day through which I practice.  My training and personal development are always a part of anything I do.  Any time I become aware of distraction, I get back my center and tune-in again.  A continuous process that becomes subconscious most of the time.  I only bring these things into the forefront and this article to help you realize:  1)  there are so many things going on around you that you are missing; and 2) that you can and should practice your skills at any time (re-read to catch more).

Does this spend too much energy?  Actually it keeps me focused on the moment.  Therefore, no wasted energy.  It also helps me to open more of my mind.  Do you realize it’s been said that most of us are using only 5% of our brain power?



Animals, like this deer, as well as indigenous people, use about 70-80% of their brain by fully utilizing all their senses. (We use about 6-7%!)

Now let me share with you a couple of excerpts from our industry magazine Martial Arts Professional. 

Story #1: A 3rd-degree black belt and contact-tournament champion tells of his ATM incident:

“I saw a guy standing there and I knew something was not right. He was pretty big and looked like a homeless transient type, maybe 50 years old.  But I went ahead to the ATM anyway and I got my money. When I turned around he was standing right there behind me!

I don’t know why but I just froze. I didn’t even see the punch that hit me. I just saw stars. I know I put my hand up in front of my face, but that’s about all I did. I felt another real hard shot to my face and then I was on the floor and I got a hard kick to my stomach that totally took the wind out of me. I couldn’t understand what had happened.  How did that broken-down bum get me like that? I knew it was because I had just choked and my martial arts were no help to me at all.”

 Story #2 (A barroom incident):

“ I guess I was just thinking, ‘Hey, I’m a black belt and this guy doesn’t know who he is fooling with.’ But when he got right up in my face and just screamed at me how he’d stomp me into the ground, I just couldn’t believe it was happening. Then he hit me in the face and still, I’m just standing there. I mean, I really didn’t do anything.

He hit me maybe three or four times before I even started to try to fight back at all. But none of my stuff was connecting and I felt no power in my shots at all. I really can’t even remember what techniques I tried, if any. He was just pounding on me again and again before people finally pulled him off me.  By  that time I was totally enraged. I really didn’t feel any pain but my whole body was shaking.

Later when I calmed down, I asked myself, ‘Where was my karate?’ ”

Good question! The answer is that it was left in the training hall.  You practice hard, then when you finish, you go on with all your distractions.   You’re easily caught off-guard in that state of mind.

Quiet the mind.  Then you can see.

Master Park always explained how important visualization is.  He would say, “Twenty minutes with focus is better than two hours without.” I’ve also learned to practice all the time.  Every moment counts.  Doing this helps to awaken the other 95% of your brain. Once awakened, every area of your life will be affected. Believe me, you will be amazed at how much you’ve been missing!


Originally October, 2000




Shifu Ahles
Shifu Raymond Ahles, the owner and Chief Instructor of the Blue Dragon School, is a certified instructor of Ba Gua Zhang Kung Fu & Chi Kung and a 7th Generation Lineage Disciple in the Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Association. In addition to his 30 years plus teaching experience in the martial arts, Shifu Ahles also holds a B.S. degree in Exercise Physiology, he’s a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has an extensive background in the healing arts of Oriental Medicine including certifications in Advanced Amma Therapy, Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. He is a licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist in NJ.





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