To develop fighting skills also requires process. Every martial art has its own recipe, though quite a few fail with the end products. To continue with the cooking metaphor a full free course meal of combat is not something that is widely considered very good for the health. The wise cook separates the ingredients and prepares them in a certain order. The wise cook prepares the diners too.
Again it is not simply a question of technique, it is process and exposure.
I once met a man from Sichuan in a godawful western China town. Sichuan is famous for the spiciness of its cooking. Not many people here in Paris could tolerate standard Sichuan food. I have seen Chinese people cry from the heat of Sichuan food.
The man from Sichuan told me he took part in spice competitions – basically eating hotter and hotter food until the other competitors can no longer cope. If I took a nice refined Parisian out of their local brasserie and entered them in a Sichuan spice competition they would be unlikely to survive very long, and the longer they stuck out the longer they would feel the consequences – day, weeks, possibly lifelong trauma.
In fighting skill it’s vital to build an ability to eat spicy! Spicy here means impact, it means pressure, it means chaos, it means emotion.
I knew a martial arts school in Britain that had a good reputation for Sanda for a while. They won tournaments mostly because the of the low level of the opposition. Their process was lacking – they had some good technique, some physical conditioning but they tended to ignore sparring until the very close to the competitions. As a result the competitors lacked exposure to pressure and chaos, would get over excited during sparring and enter the tournaments with injuries.
Hence the Sichuan Heuristic – if you want to enter a spice competition in Sichuan you better prepare – eat the delicious, complex food even if your mouth burns regularly at mealtimes. But if your gut lining falls out you’ve gone too far too fast!
(This is an excerpt from my next book – beautiful, badass, bullshit free Bagua basics)