Master Robert Thomas

One of the most important aspects in the study of martial arts is the development of a disciplined mind.  All others skills pale in comparison.  A person can learn to throw a punch, a kick, lock an arm or leg or throw an opponent, but you will not do any of these well or master the techniques unless you utilize discipline.

Discipline is concentrated control in your training and performance. You control the movements of your body and control the thoughts in your mind consistently to achieve an objective. There is an old adage that says, “Practice makes perfect.”  I disagree: Disciplined practice makes perfect.

The undisciplined person seems awkward to the eye of the beholder.

You can often times tell who is a master by looking carefully at the way the person moves. When you observe a master, someone who has studied for a certain number of years and you watch his or her movement, no matter how old they are, you will see a degree of control that the average person will not display.  This is because through discipline this person has performed their techniques thousands of time, the same way over a long period of time. They will not be awkward. They may not execute a technique with blinding speed and extreme twists, but they will perform the technique just the same and you will see the energy like the energy of a coiled snake, ready to strike if provoked.

An example of a master with discipline outside of the martial arts is Zubin Mehta. When I first saw Zubin Mehta conduct the New York Philharmonic many years ago, I was transfixed by his movement. I thought to myself, this is good Kung-Fu. His movements were so precise and controlled as he led the orchestra through their performance. His performance was magical and masterful to see.

The undisciplined person loses his or her head when they are faced with a tough opponent or adversity in general.

When two fighters meet, if one is afraid of the other, the one who is afraid is almost always lost. When an undisciplined fighter is pressed, he loses his nerve and loses his skill. This has been seen countless times in the ring. I call it “taking your opponents heart”. If you keep your head and do not panic, you may not always win, but chances are if your skill is where it should be, you will never be beaten badly in a contest.

Discipline will help you sustain relationships if you want to work at it. If you don’t want to work at a relationship then leave it with no regrets.

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