The Secret of the Martial Arts
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Throughout my many years of training in the martial arts I have witnessed some very extraordinary things. I've met Shaolin Monks that can do one finger handstands and throw sewing needles through sheets of glass making only a tiny hole. I've seen practioners of my art take full blast kicks to various parts of the body and smile after. My teacher Grandmaster H. C. Hwang for example could put out a candle flame by pointing from over a foot away, I've also been amazed by his awareness, I've seen him spot one person in a crowd of hundreds that did not belong. I've seen him on countless occasions catch details that no one else did.
I'll never forget when Master Bonsigniore had tucked folded knife into his uniform which was no bigger than a pack of gum. He was using to as a prop for a demonstration. Grandmaster walked by and after he passed two steps he turned back and reached in Master Bonsigniore uniform and said 'what's this?'. How he spotted something you couldn't even see if you know it was in his uniform to this day amazes me. His awareness was extraordinary.
I've seen Grand Master Andy Ahpo break a selected brick from a pile of bricks and ONLY that brick, leaving the others intact. I've been told by seniors that saw GM Hwang Kee at one demonstration sat opposing a student both cross legged and would jump over his partner from the cross-legged position, holding a glass of water! I've seen many extra ordinary feats some too strange to mention. And I have found the secret to all those extra ordinary feats.
The secret is.........
Transforming from ordinary to extraordinary requires EXTRAordinary practice! It's that simple. The MINDFUL practice of SIMPLE BASIC tasks and techniques develops these and many other skills. I spoke to GM H. C. Hwang about his putting out a candle, his reply 'just practice,' I asked him about how he developed such amazing awareness he replied 'just practice.' This frustratingly simple answer drove my Western mind mad for many years. Then at my Ko Dan Ja test it happened.
At Ko Dan Ja (The masters test) we wound up bowing very frequently. Every time you saw another practitioner you bowed. We probably over did it due to our wanting to do a good job and be respectful, but by the third day I could sense whenever someone was near me and so could many others. It got to the point that we could not get near one another without sensing one another. It even became somewhat of a challenge to sneak up on one another. I realized the simple act of mindfully bowing developed a personal radar. When you actively look for people in your presence to greet, you automatically develop an awareness of friends or foes. This simple act develops an extraordinary ability.
The EGO Looking to develop extraordinary abilities falsely in order to impress other people stems from the Ego and lack of self esteem. That's why when no one is looking you can throw the wad of paper across the room and drop it right into the wastepaper basket when no one is looking, yet try something like that when people are looking and the pressure builds thanks to the Ego. When I was a green belt we used to frequently practice outside in yards, parks etc. I accidentally discovered that I could grab small rocks, clumps of dirt with my toes and if my kicking technique was good, throw these little dirt bullets with extreme accuracy. It developed into a game where we could hit trees and such 20 feet away. One day years later in the Do jang a couple of my students were doing construction in the other training area.
They were chatting off to the side as I came in from teaching class. I noticed a small piece of sheetrock on the floor and grabbed it with my toes and across the room about 20 feet away was a small hole in the wall about six inches round. As they were busy chatting and not paying attention to me I launched the little rock with a Peet cha gi kick and BAM it went right into the hole. Smiling to myself I fondly remembered doing this as a young practitioner,and I then noticed my students weren't talking anymore. I turned all three of them were standing there with their mouths hanging open, they saw the shot go in. I had to think to myself if I knew they were watching would I have made the shot? Funny how the Ego works. I remember when my teacher had us punching at candles to extinguish the flame. Every couple of dozen punches or so we would put it out, and that would add to the pressure of doing it again, which would cause tension and not make us able to do it. We would then realize to relax again and poof it would go out.
The hidden and untapped potential of the human mind and body always fascinated me. Did you ever need to wake up at a specific time and woke up exactly to the minute at that time, before the alarm went off?
Did you ever think of someone you haven't seen in a long time and that day they contacted you? Or what about the time you intentionally caught something or threw something making or catching an impossible shot?
I remember as a child seeing on a TV talk show a man with an amazing ability. The talk show would have someone hide in the building an object unknown to the man. He would then pick someone that knew the location of the object and hold hands with them. He would then without speaking to them walk around and find the object. It was not a trick, it was an amazing development of sensitivity. He could feel the minute unconscious or conscious tension or extra relaxation (if they tried to trick him) by holding their hand and use this as a yes, no, warm, cold, signal and find the object. He got so good at it he would write a check for a couple of thousand dollars have them hide it anywhere on a city block and as long as he held hands with a person whom knew the location he would always find itI am also amazed at body language experts. They are frequently hired for jury selection in criminal cases. The amount of information they glean from the way a person dresses, talks, moves and presents themselves is amazingly accurate. These are all simple abilities that were developed into extraordinary abilities through simple mindful practice.
Years ago I was at a Chinese acrobat demonstration. Three acts that I saw were unbelievable and I am amazed that they and many others remain unknown. First was an elderly couple about seventy years old. They demonstrated juggling a pitchfork. The moves they used were amazing, and they rarely used their hands. They used undulations and flicks of their wrists, arms, necks, etc., to juggle a pitchfork and play catch with it. I was blow away when the old man had this pitchfork twirl in circles around the insides of his arms then circle around his neck, back into his arms and thrown twirling to his wife with the flick of his elbow. His wife then caught it with the crease of her elbow and begin spinning it around herself. I would have been nervous just simply catching a twirling pitch fork with my hands let alone any other body part.
The next act a young girl came out on a five foot unicycle, she zipped around then placed (while on the unicycle) a rice bowl on her foot. She gave it a little kick and it flew tumbling upon her head. She then put two bowls on her toe and one in the crook of her foot, flick they both tumbled into the first bowl. She repeated this with more and more bowls using different parts of her leg until she had a pile on her head. She then put a teapot on her foot, kicked that into the stack of bowls, then a teaspoon into the small mouth of the teapot, THEN THE LID OF THE TEAPOT! The final act was a mother and daughter foot juggling duo. The mother laid on her back and her five year old daughter named Meemee sat on her mothers feet. Mom then began juggling her daughter into various flips ending in a on handed handstand, the daughters hand upside-down on the mothers one foot. Some more flips and then little Meemee landed foot to foot standing on ONE LEG!.
I walked way from that demonstration flabbergasted, amazed at the skills I witnessed I thought of how much potential we all have. Think about this, that little five year old girl could only had about four years of practice! Yet in four years of practice she was amazing. How much time do we waste? She became extraordinary because of her extra ordinary practice. Another thing I noticed after speaking to all of them after the demo is, they were enjoying themselves and did it for that reason. They were all humble ordinary people. I sensed no Egos at all. They simply learned a skill from one generation to another and other than their pride in their culture and heritage it was no big deal.
The practice of the most simple basic acts in the Do Jang, bowing, Kihap (yell), looking before you turn, the neatness of your uniform, basic simple techniques, all can transform into extraordinary abilities. The neglect of these areas can also cause valuable pieces of the martial art puzzle to be lost. It's ironic how some people Ego's cause them to look to develop extraordinary skills somehow thinking its going to make them more special and liked. The harder they look outward the more elusive it becomes, they search jumping from source to source not realizing the power was always within them. The practice of humility keeps the Ego in check. Keeping the ego in check helps develop you ability. Practice every little detail with mindful awareness, realize when your Ego tries to take control and quiet it down with humility and you will be amazed as your abilities go from ordinary to extraordinary .
Many years later after witnessing my teacher put out that candle, we had a thunderstorm and the studio was without lights. I bought some candles and lite them around the room and we had a class by candle light. After class I was putting out the candles and decided to try what my teacher did so many years ago. I shot a spear hand toward the candle it went out. I did not realize one of my students was watching, he excitedly asked me how I did that.
I said “Just practice”
D.Segarra About the Author Master Daniel R. Segarra is a 7th Degree Black Belt in the Korean Martial Art of Tang Soo Do. He has been training for over 40 years and teaches at the Warrior-Scholar Martial Arts Academy located at 298 Lawrence Ave in Lawrence N.Y Five Towns Area. Warrior-Scholar Martial Arts Academy has been teaching Men, Women, Teens & Children our unique Martial Art for over 50 years! Oldest KMA school in the USA! Serving the 5 Towns, Far Rockaway, Lawrence, Inwood, Cedarhurst, Hewlettt, Rosedale, Woodmere, East Rockaway, Rockville Centre, Arverne, Oceanside for over five decades!