Monday, August 2, 2010


I made an interesting observation. Some of the greatest martial artists who have performed their craft at the highest levels are counter-culture to the "give it all you got," culture of western society.

These individuals are tenacious in their arena, yet they seem to have more compassion. They are far surpassed in their skill and ability, yet they walk in humility and honor. They could destroy you in seconds, but they are always calm, cool, collected, and poised.

Young athletes, young men especially, strive to continuously be the Dragon: fierce, competitive, aggressive and strong. Our society has taught them that this is the way to achieve success.

But on the contrary, I have observed that the consistently dominate athletes, businessmen, martial artists, musicians, etc all maintain a certain inner strength derived through an inner peace that differs from others.

They are sometimes said to be the "nicest guy you'll ever meet," off the field. But on the field, they change. They morph. The fire out of their mouth is so much more powerful and controlled, they almost effortlessly torch their field of play.

I'd like to share with you what one Dragonhas taught me through his books. He teaches that the garbage you allow into your mind is what distracts you from letting your body and mind connect as an athlete. His name is Bruce Lee, and he calls it Wu Wei.

Wu means "non" and wei means "action, doing, striving." In the The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, their is a part where Cruise is getting messed up in a training exercise by two or three Samurai. During the fight, he looks haphazard, fighting out of raw emotion, swinging his weapon with no intent, just hoping to connect. Though Cruise is a trained military soldier and warrior, his aggression and training does not give him what he needs to take on his opponents successfully. One of the Samurai yells out to Cruise, "too much mind."

Wu Wei does not invoke taking no action. It is the art of letting your mind go and trusting it to do the work you've taught it to do. As an athlete, you train your skills daily. The more hours of deliberate practice you put in, the more refined you skills become.

But why, sometimes, can we not get past a certain stage. Why can't we transfer this practice to a field of play and dominate our opponents. Because we never truly trust ourselves. We get in our own way. Instead of acting in harmony with what is in front of us, we try to force the issue; control.

Attaining Wu Wei means to attain what Lee calls "spontaneous action," or "spirit action." This means that you have allowed the mind to become the governing force and have let your senses go.

To do this you must master the principle of Wuhsinor "no-mindedness." Allan Watts describes no mindedness as, "a state of wholeness in which the mind functions freely and easily, without the sensation of a second mind or ego standing over it with a club."

To all my young athletes and parents. This second mind or "club" that beats all your hard work into mediocrity is the ego. The ego is what makes us worry about what people think of our performance. It is what causes fear, anxiety, jealousy, envy, pride, vanity, covetous, and even hatred. This "club" keeps our performance on the practice field stellar, but once the lights are on, this "club" does everything that it can to tell us "we're not good enough," or "people are judging me," and so forth.

Take a lesson from one of the greatest masters of his craft. Learn the Unleash The Dragon, by trusting all the work you have put into your skill. When performing, only focus on the skill, focus on improving your ability to use what you have practiced. And do not worry about the outcome. Only by practicing and attaining, Wu Wei will you ever become a true master.

Check out this clip of Bruce Lee teaching a young student Wu Wei. He didn't mess around:)