The Problem of Practice

rath1“Thoughts come when it was thoughts one came to escape…”

At some point one might find that just about everything in one’s martial arts practice has suddenly, and unexpectedly, become tenuous. Tenacity seems to permeate all. I don’t know if it’s the state I’m in or if it’s a progression of some sort that seems permeable – is it live or is it Memorex? Is it “one” or “I”, the personal or impermeable?

One thinks, or maybe one in the same position might proffer, that at some point one gets settled into a comfort brought from a given time period of practice. Repetition of movement and thought through time expands to the expected, the comfortable. The stance one has relaxed within should seem familiar if not rote. Then suddenly all is dispersed within the standards one thought fluid and known. The dispersion is at once obvious and unknown.

It’s as if she said, sipping her tea from the black marble that is the distance between, as if she said, yes, and with that yes all of the broken pieces scattered amidst the dust collected from the end of the day, burnt out ends in the ashtray, as if it was truth – that the yes was real, comforting, known in some way distant as the broom sweeps beneath and tea is hot and comforting.

As if she understood.

As if one understands.

As if I understand.

Always it happens as one experiments only to understand that the beginning was where it ended, the ending being the place to start again, afresh. The basic turning of the arm as the punch circles into the target and then circles back again, as if this was known and proffered throughout the years only suddenly to be betrayed by a certain truth illuminated by fluorescents and red cement, the truth that yes, this too has to begin again.

Maybe we construct it this way: it’s the beginning of walking the circle, that of starting a Shaolin set, maybe getting ready to stand for a bit, getting ready to spar with an as yet unseen partner, sitting down across a table with the unknown or the familiar, either way one sets, hands go out, the mind aligns the body, the hands, the feet, a settling occurs that leaps forward from years past. Then more adjustments. Then life occurs in the movement, a step toward the inside of the circle, a stomp of the foot and hands outstretched, the pain of shoulders rebelling against arms curled round, the reach for the warm cup.

Then all crumbles into the past and it is found that indeed, the lessons learned retreat and the tenacity of movement envelopes the present.

That would be one way of saying it, one way of conveying its construction. And there are others, other ways of expression, others found across the table. Yet it’s the expression of tenacity, of the fleeting that I’m after, or maybe she is with her yes. Perhaps we could say that in the known, the throwing of a punch, the tugging at the tea bag, lies the unknown always ready to leap out and betray the present with a past and future truth.

So I don’t know if it’s “one” or “I” or simply the progression of a search that started long ago and seems impossible to complete. Yet I feel a certain certainty within seems to proclaim progress, however inconceivable.


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