Why do I go to Margit Island every Monday morning at 9:00 to engage in Martial Yoga training? Allow me to tell you an ancient post-modern Zen story to explain.
Once upon a time in ancient China, or Thailand, or somewhere sufficiently Far-Eastern and exotic sounding (though maybe, come to think of it, this incident might actually have happened in Los Angeles or Budapest), there was a martial arts student named Wong, or maybe Charles. Now, Charlie had heard a rumor that his martial arts teacher, Wun Hung Lo (though everyone called him Larry) was in possession of a secret technique that he only taught to students he found to be diligent and honorable.
One day, at the end of class, as Larry was about to slip through the beaded curtain that led to his private quarters, or the dojo office, Charlie shouted, “Wait a minute Sensei! (or Sifu, or Guruji, or whatever he called him).”
“I was wondering if… if… (Charlie nervously played with the silk sleeve of the fancy Chinese training uniform that had been delivered by UPS the day before, while he stared at the floor)... if you considered me a diligent and honorable student?”
Larry gave Charlie a suspicious side eye. “Well, yes I do,” he said, (“...sort of”, he muttered under his breath.) “Why do you ask, Grasshopper, or padawan learner, or whatever I’m supposed to call you in this story?”
“Well, uh, I was wondering if you’d, uh, teach me the secret technique?”
A broad smile broke out on Larry’s face. “Oh! Of course! Come to training tomorrow!"
At which Larry disappeared through the beaded curtain. Charlie left the dojo very pleased.
The next day Charlie put extra effort into his training to impress his teacher with his worthiness. At the end of class he went up to Larry and asked, “Are you going to teach me the secret technique?”
“Yes. Come to training tomorrow.” At which he again slipped through the beaded curtain. Charlie was a bit put off, but he assumed Larry had a meeting with a local warlord or had an online chi kung class to teach that he’d forgotten the day before when he made his appointment with Charlie.
For an entire week, the same thing happened. Charlie showed up to class every day and trained like a demon, and his skills took a leap forward. After class he would ask about the secret technique, and Larry would say to come to training the next day.
Finally, one day Charlie flipped out. “WTF! Why do you keep brushing me off and lying to me, Larry?”
Larry smiled the benign indulgence of a Buddha, or the sly smile of a sitcom character who’d been set up with a great punchline. “But Charlie, I’ve been telling you the secret technique every day: Come to training tomorrow!”
And Charlie was enlightened… or not. But at least coming to training so often really improved his skills.
OK. I’ll confess to being a bit facetious here. It’s actually true that some martial arts teachers have secret techniques that they won’t teach just anyone.
But even those teachers would nod sagely if they heard this story, agreeing that the most important martial arts technique of them all, is to show up for training tomorrow. If you don’t train, you won’t learn squat.
I can be found under a tree on Margit Island next to the Szabadtéri Szinpad (visible from the 26 bus stop of the same name) every Monday morning at 9:00. If you come, I will share with you the martial movement I have learned from aikido, tai chi, systema, karate and chi kung over the last 40+ years. My goal is to share those movements that promote health, flexibility and energy flow. And the movement exercises are regularly interspersed with seated meditation (I am a certified meditation teacher).
And who knows? Perhaps I will even show you the secret technique. Come to training.