The experience of limit is one of the forces that has always driven our existence. A spark that ignites the processes that lead to discoveries, inventions and new solutions so that the living conditions of many -and still in too few cases: of everyone- improve.
Yet, despite life expectancy having almost doubled in the last hundred years, our body experiences a limited trajectory, in space, time and the energy it can expend.
And so our actions, which sometimes coincide with our desires, while other times do not lead where our ambitions would like.
If we then look at relationships, how many times would we like to be understood and, in turn, understand others? Yet we often live there, in a middle ground, sailing between the port of departure and some lighthouses dotting the coast here and there, sometimes docking somewhere but not in the port of arrival.
So many, perhaps all, seek reinforcement in some path, routine, idea, belief, habit, philosophy, worship, discipline… Something that helps to deal with the limit that we always perceive and sometimes meet.
It is clearly seen in the performance of a martial discipline that each practitioner experiences an initial phase of adaptation, often tiring, followed by a phase of technical growth, often accompanied by a certain enthusiasm. Once the technique is internalized, we enter a phase in which we experience an even greater limit. Much more powerful than the passing of years or the complexity of an increasingly demanding technical program.
Sometimes this limit disguises itself as boredom due to the routine that every path brings along with it: repetitive training, closed environments certainly don’t help to deal with the sensation of hitting a glass ceiling.
Other times this limit takes the form of frustration that comes from comparison. Other people always seem less deserving than us, less committed than us, less skilled than us, who are the chosen ones who teach Neo Kung Fu. Environments where in the name of equality and hierarchy everyone’s path is honored, forgetting to valorise talent wherever it emerges, even in the humblest of beginners, can objectively be suffocating. After all, it is the reason why every human being, at a certain point, leaves home and creates something new, even if he then discovers that he/she has built more and no less an updated version of the same experience.
Other times yet this limit takes the form of a slow euthanasia of the practice itself and of relationships, often blaming physical form as the reason for a progressive disinvestment. Environments where the physical dimension of the practice is devoted to performance, exactly like environments in which the athletic preparation of the technical gesture is neglected, can lead to a confrontation with reality, especially if the reality is aging or a different level of practice where you they beat you as a rag during a seminar.
We could go on yet…
The point is that the limit is ourselves.
The rest of the path in a discipline is used to get here and remain attached to this evidence.
What to do?
Philosophy and part of scientific thought, at least in a certain part of the West, are convinced that a progressive integration between human beings and technology can determine a new evolutionary leap, in which human beings free themselves from certain weaknesses that are specific to them. This transhumanism, however, is not only a re-proposal of an attempt as old as history that we can know but, even if it were meaningful (without leading to the dehumanization of totalitarianism), it is nothing more than a moving of the limit. It certainly isn’t addressing the limit itself.
If we look at the little big world of the tatami, once you hit the mirror and know the true cause of these and other sensations, there are three attitudes, which are inherent to the human being.
We hibernate in a series of habits. We do our homework, we remain attached to what becomes a tradition. Something rarely warms our hearts, on the contrary, new things slowly disturb us. There is value in becoming nostalgic and traditionalist. Except that if, in addition to the body, the spirit also ages, it’s a pity.
Or we try to fight the inexorable passage of time by squeezing out more than we can actually give. Running, jogging, swimming pool, paddling pool, yoga, calisthenics, crossfit, mindfulness, vegetarianism, veganism, protein meals, personal trainers, creams, keiko, special keiko, seminars, weeks, camps, meditations, assorted transcendences… All in a single smoothie to swallow together with cocoa-flavored proteins.
Or you still run away and, before gluing yourself to the sofa, you do the same things as in the previous paragraph, but in sequence, not all together. Looking elsewhere for shelter from this limit that chases us.
Of course it chases us: it’s us.
Then maybe it’s good to look at the mirror and smile back. And understand what enormous areas of improvement a practice opens up in knowing oneself thanks to continuous physical relation with others.
Recognize that, despite everything, there are more movements that I can do than those that I have never been able to do or that I can no longer do;
Learning to truly recognize who I am when I am under stress and discovering that the self that emerges is not to be feared but to be accepted and brought into the light;
Set yourself growth goals regardless of physical performance;
Embody maturation goals without forgetting physical performance;
The limit becomes an ally or an enemy. For a Martial Arts practitioner, never an excuse.
Disclaimer: Photo by Daniel Watson from Pexels