“The most important key is knowledge”
-Dr. Yang (Founder of Yang’s Martial Arts Association)
“The intelligent man is one who has successfully fulfilled many accomplishments, and is yet willing to learn more.”
-Ed Parker (Founder of American Kenpo Karate)
And the first step to truly understanding is learning how to learn… exploring how to really gain knowledge!
I’ve been teaching for a while.
I’ve taught martial arts, personal development, meditation, mysticism, etc.
And as I move more and more toward story telling as my primary mode of teaching, this becomes less of a challenge.
But it is very hard to train an expert from story telling alone.
At some point… you have to practice…
You Have To Play The Game!
Still, while teaching, I’ll occasionally get the look… or the flat out statement of:
“Yeah, I already know that…”
But do you really know that?
What exactly do we mean by ‘know’?
know [noh] (from Dictionary.com)
–verb (used with object)
- to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty: I know the situation fully.
- to have established or fixed in the mind or memory: to know a poem by heart; Do you know the way to the park from here?
- to be cognizant or aware of: I know it.
- be acquainted with (a thing, place, person, etc.), as by sight, experience, or report: to know the mayor.
- to understand from experience or attainment (usually fol. by how before an infinitive): to know how to make gingerbread.
- to be able to distinguish, as one from another: to know right from wrong.
- Archaic. to have sexual intercourse with.
(number 7 has nothing to do with this article… but I left it in for fun… “How many people do you know?” )
Most obnoxious interruptions (“I know that… duh”) come from people using 1,3, and 4 as their definitions.
I encourage you to start using 2,5, & 6 as your definitions.
What’s the real difference?
Definitions 1, 3, and 4 imply little more than intellectual understanding (from my perspective).
Definitions 2, 5, and 6 imply some level of practice for real understanding (in my not-too-humble opinion).
The implications of that last sentence are important!
Real Understanding Requires Practice!
You don’t get it until you do it.
You don’t really “already know that” until you have applied it.
How about an example…
Never Call “Bullshit”… Unless You Really Know!
Let me tell you a story that my karate instructor told me… about something he said to his instructor.
(for the story, my instructor is Mr. V, and his instructor is Dr. M)
Dr. M: So this is a really powerful technique we teach as a defense against a right step through punch. It’s called ‘Sleeper’. And when you do the choke properly, your opponent is unconscious in 3 seconds.
Mr. V: Bullshit!
Dr. M: What specifically?
Mr. V: You can’t choke someone out in 3 seconds!
Dr. M: I see. Well let’s find out. Throw the punch.
Mr. V: (throws punch)
Dr. M: (performs technique)
He was unconscious in 3 seconds!
(apparently, a few minutes passed before Mr. V woke up and apologized)
Although my instructor was well versed in martial arts at this point, he didn’t really know chokes. He had seen them. He had even applied a few. But his real knowledge was limited. This one experience gave him a deeper understanding of chokes, what’s possible with them, and what it’s like to be choked out.
Now, over 20 years later, his knowledge and ability with chokes… is nothing short of frightening!
Once you really practice… how you perceive a situation or technique will change!
Typically, the people who throw around “Yeah, I already know”, are the newcomers to the discipline. Most of the people who stick around develop the humility (or already have it) to truly dedicate themselves to the study. And humility tends to erase “Yeah, I already know that”.
One way this humility will frequently manifest is through the use of different terminology in response to questions of knowledge… some possible examples are:
- I’ve been exposed to the material, but I don’t really know it yet
- I’ve worked on that for a while, but there is still much to learn
- I’ve been working on that for years, and I’m pretty good, but I’m not perfect yet
With physical skills, mind and body must act as one to truly manifest genius ability… and this can only happen with practice.
This isn’t just for physical skills, though…
It is just as applicable for intellectual concepts as well.
One example from my own life involves the word ‘Chi’ (now more commonly spelled ‘Qi’, but still pronounced the same way)
When I was 18, I had already read a book on Chi Kung… and I had a working definition of ‘Chi’… so I assumed I knew all about Chi.
That was 16 years ago… and though I’ve read quite a few books on Chi Kung, and I’ve practiced it quite a bit as well… I now realize that I truly know very little.
Understanding Chi as steam, breath, an energy field… or all these as aspects of the same thing… or experiencing any and all of the previous… is all still just the beginning of true knowledge.
This isn’t just true of Chi… it is true of every subject I’ve taken the time to sincerely study.
Why give this in a general article… why not thoroughly cover one specific example?
- If you take nothing else away from this article, please understand that reading (even a brilliant article like this ) can only make you better at reading. Without practice… it’s just more mental garbage taking up bandwidth in your mind. Thorough coverage in books and articles is ultimately not possible. All this article or any other can do is give you a push in the right direction… a little bit of effective knowledge. But if you add effective knowledge to persistent practice… look out! That’s a potent combination…
- The means of developing real knowledge is a principle that applies across your life (in ways you have yet to imagine… but you can begin to… right now). It is great to get better at physical skills and understanding your favorite subject… but what about your relationships? How much wisdom do you actually apply there? What about your religious/spiritual practice? How much would it benefit from the power of understanding through sincere practice?
But why on Peaceful Prosperity?
Cultivating Consciousness requires sincerity with self.
If you don’t notice this behavior in yourself, I encourage you to look a little deeper.
You may recognize there are certain areas you want to be a little more serious about. You may also realize there are skills and subjects you have a casual curiosity for… but you don’t really have a sincere interest in… and this is fine. In fact it is great, because it offers you the chance to clear one more small waste of time out of your life.
Another level of this is just feeling good about yourself. Are you a person that talks about doing big things… or are you one of the few that actually does big things?
Peace, Power, and Happiness in your life are a reflection of who you are… they shine out from that which you have internalized. They don’t come from intellectual knowledge… they come from application… from you being the living embodiment of understanding and skill.
How to continually internalize knowledge and practice is another meditation you can take with you into every moment of every day.
Internalized knowledge might be described as ‘being’… it is now just who you are.
So who do you want to be?
Take action on this right now.
- Find some area in your life where you have a sincere desire for growth and look closely (and humbly) at how well your level of practice supports that growth
- Find some way in which you can implement a little more practice right away… (if your practice is already very good and very consistent… consider how you might make it a little bit better)
- Give yourself a good solid smile on the inside after every practice session (or reward yourself in some other practical, positive way)… remember that whether a given practice session goes good or bad, you are building the habits that lead to excellence in all areas of life
We’ll close with another quote from the late Ed Parker:
“Knowledge grows with time, work, and dedicated effort. It cannot come by any other means.”
P.S. Send this article to all those ‘know-it-all’s in your life… the people who think they understand without doing… and watch their neurons sizzle