I've been talking about it for months now. You may have heard my pizza analogy during class. I've been really impressed with the kids ability to understand the fine points of the concept. However, it's not just a lesson for kids or for new practitioners. It's an ideal that anyone looking for mastery of anything needs to understand!
Virtuosity: performing the common uncommonly well. Focus on this during your regular practice and you will learn the true meaning of Gongfu (Kungfu – Great skill acquired through hard work). It doesn’t matter if you practice Kungfu, Tai Chi or CrossFit- focus on the basics! The foundation isn’t just the basis for your future development, it defines your practice.
All too often Kungfu practitioners focus on the high flying jumps, Tai Ji students focus on developing powerful internal energy and CrossFit athletes look for rip hundreds of pounds of steel without properly developing the most basic techniques. The front stretch kick and the horse stance for Kungfu students, Tai Ji walking basics and CrossFitter’s squat and deadlift form are what we learn on the first day of practice. We are engrained with a linear learning pattern that allows us to believe that once we learn something we can progress to something more advanced. This might take the form of a no handed cartwheel, a traditional long routine, or more complicated lift like the snatch or clean and jerk. We forget that becoming great doesn’t mean doing more, it means doing things better – perfecting our skill.
I don’t just look at tornado kicks and shaolin monks meditating for inspiration. I see mastery in the head to toe front stretch kick, in a powerful golden rooster taiji posture and repping out air squats with perfect posture.
Remember, practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Focus on the technical execution of “basic” skills and learn the true meaning of virtuosity.
The challenge for February is to identify the fundamental practices of your chosen discipline and concentrate on developing those key skills. List the techniques and concentrate on bringing the ideal practice to the forefront of your consciousnesses during your training this month. Focus on virtuosity and journey down your path towards towards mastery!