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"Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride..."

A few years back I took an online test from a book entitled “Strength Finders 2.0.” The book had been given to me by my good friend Greg Smith, a noted JKD instructor, good friend, top-level business professional, and personal development coach who suggested I read it and take the test, which would reveal my five top strengths. So I took the test. At the top of the list of my strengths was “Learner.” In the book it relates the following about “Learner” --

“You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process. The process, more than the content or result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered….”

Talk about being spot on. I do love learning, but just like the book says, what I really do enjoy most is the process.

I’m sure that anyone who is involved in Jeet Kune Do has read or been told at one time or another that, “Jeet Kune Do is a process, not a product…” Bruce Lee continually admonished his students to “avoid making a thing out of a process.” The reason he did this is that he knew that, as I wrote in another blog, for many martial art students, the chasing after a belt (or in the case of JKD, a particular Phase Level or Instructor certificate) oftentimes becomes more important to them than the learning process they experience as they attain it. Their focus is on the end goal they want to achieve, with the result that their attention is always pointed ahead and outside the present moment. Alan Watts, the renowned Zen scholar commented on this “destination-conscious” mentality that exists when he wrote, “If the goal of dancing were to reach a certain spot on the floor, then obviously the fastest dancer would be the best. The point of dancing is the dance itself.”

“Process” refers to a continuing development involving many changes along the way, It indicates a fluid state of motion as opposed to something fixed or static. “Process-oriented” people are focused on the process they use to reach a desired outcome and are concerned with the actual performance of whatever the task is at hand.

Martial art training is an on-going, evolving process, the ultimate objective being for an individual to actualize their full human potential and attain the highest levels of performance of which they are capable. This training process is fluid, adjusting as necessary to fit the individual’s personal needs.

In the end, JKD training is all about “doing the work” and “developing a passion for the process.” It’s about navigating new and possibly uncharted waters as you learn about yourself. You may not know where exactly you’ll end up, but then that’s what makes it fun and exciting.

Martial art training, for each of us, is a journey. How far an individual travels along their personal journey (their process) will be entirely up to them. I think that John Bunch, a member of my instructor staff, summed it up best when during one of our conversations one day he said, “JKD is like getting on a train to take a journey. Some people immediately come to the conclusion that they have boarded the wrong train and get off at the very first stop. Some ride the train for awhile and then decide they have traveled as far as they want to go and disembark, perhaps to climb aboard a train going somewhere else. And some people stay on the train until it reaches its final destination, wherever that may be.”

For me, when it comes to the martial art training process, the words of Hunter S. Thompson commenting about the journey each of us take in life echo through my head, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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