We are off and running on 2021. At this point last year, I had lots of clearly defined plans for 2020. All of those plans and all of our classes and activities were completely cancelled in March. Hopefully, the stream of crazy events will slow down and allow us time to heal. We may not be able to plan everything we would like, but we can definitely plan our personal training. You may or may not have more time available to you this year over last year. Likewise, you may have more or less control of your life in 2021. It may be considerably harder to maintain a good training program in 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging than it was in 2020 or certainly in 2019.
However, there are two things that will make a huge difference.
One is having a positive attitude and finding opportunities for growth, love, and joy, even when we don’t see that there is an opportunity to be found. There will be many things going on this year that are beyond your or my personal control. There always are! But there is always one thing that you can control. Your attitude. Your attitude makes all the difference in the world for how you perceive and experience what happens to you. Your attitude also makes a huge difference to everyone around you. All of us a have a calmer wiser side or presence and we can all become carried away by our emotions. Committing to stay calm and control your own attitude, be responsible for your words and deeds, even when others may not, allows us to create better solutions and outcomes for everyone. With a good attitude difficult events and people will bounce off your smile and you will find a way around the challenges. Decide now that no matter what happens in 2021 it is going to be a great year for you and infinitely increase the chances of that happening. The world may throw obstacles at you but at least your attitude will be an ally and powerful tool to overcome whatever comes.
The second thing you can do is plan to train to the best of your ability all year long. All of our normal classes have been cancelled and we are using different new locations outdoors. Lots of things have changed. However, you can still practice what you have learned. You can still practice your Tai Chi, Northern Shaolin, Xing Yi Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, and Qigong. You may not be able to practice in the same locations or at the same times or with the same company.
However, you can decide to make 2021 a great year for personal progression in skill and physique, for learning new aspects of your art, and for deepening your understanding of what you already know. Many students for the first time developed their own personal practice habits and created their own personal training plans in 2020. This is a huge step. What a great gift to give yourself! What a huge change and leap forward in honing your own skill, practice, and progression. Many people have completely relied on their teachers and classes for practice and instruction. In truth we need 10% or less instruction and 90% practice. Skill and body transformation happen fastest when you focus on what you are doing and practice with inquiry and self-correction. Real skill occurs when you dive deep with your passion to explore your art and your being. Real self-defense skill requires only a few good partners, perhaps even only a single one, and a few drills and plenty of time doing them. It may be impossible to practice with partners safely for many months yet. So, I would plan to focus on training your solo skills and drills. Then you will be well prepared for partner practice when we are able to resume.
When you plan your training for the year. Remember the Yang energy retreats in the winter. We are past the winter solstice, but we are still deep in winter. Being past the solstice, the days are lengthening, however the Yang energy in your body is still resting deep inside your body. This means this is the wrong time to try and use Yang energy for super intensive and exhausting training. Instead, since Yin energy is still ascendant, you should focus on cultivating your Yin energy by doing Qigong, stretching, stance training and practicing more internal martial arts. If you feel tired you should rest. If you need to sleep in, you should. Some days only light training may suit your mood and energy level. That is OK, it is appropriate. This is a good time to review your movements and understanding. It is a good time to do self-evaluation and visualize your enhanced performance.
As Spring returns it will be time to gradually intensify your training with more strenuous activities. Increase strength training, increase repetitions, increase power and speed. Build stamina and warm your muscles and joints. Spring is a great time to start learning new skills and to begin projects. This spring extensive partner training my not be possible. So, I suggest training with progressively heavier weapons instead, and doing more bag work. Spring is a good time to give extra support to your school, so your school has a great year too!
Summer is when you plan to peak your training, participate in matches and competitions. Summer is when you want to burn it and go into beast mode. If you in live in a place with extreme Summers the heat may be a challenge forcing you to adapt. In those locations Spring and Fall become better seasons for the hardest training. In Summer heat it is a great time to stretch and lengthen your tendons. In the San Francisco Bay Area we can experience seasonal change affects in a single day with the arrival and departure of our fog layer causing rapid cooling and changes in humidity. The temperature changes are a challenge for the body. However, the vibrant fresh air brought by the fog is blessing for all arts and breathing practices.
Learning new skills in the spring is great, practice super hard during the Summer and into Fall.
Enjoy your skills and find a point of satisfaction and clarity in Winter. In the Winter contemplate your practice, gather Qi, practice lighter, and socialize more. Then rest, recover, and reflect. Use the deep winter period to heal your body and gather your inner will and intention for huge growth in the following Spring and Summer. Then remember to gather your Qi, contemplate your progress and challenges, digest the content of your year and prepare for a new year.
Discuss your training plans for the year below or in the 10,000 Victories Teahouse.