Manji Schools of self-development
The art of concentration
To have abilities... to have knowledge... won't make you win a battle by itself. What else is important? To use these skills as well as you can, without interference.
You can read a book fluently, but sometimes you'll mispronounce words or make a mistake. Does it mean that you can no longer read? No, it means that you didn't focus enough.
The same thing applies when you're playing Yoshimitsu. In order to use all your knowledge and skills in a battle, you have to concentrate well in order to have it all at your disposal.
Concentration is a state of mind in which your whole attention is directed into a chosen subject.
Attention is a thoughtless consciousness, awareness of the subject.
What can restrain concentration?
… the answer is simple: you!
Your thoughts are distracting... your fear is limiting... your physical reactions to thoughts and fear are uneasy... your imagination can play tricks on you... it's not „them, this, that” - it's „you!”. This way, you stop accusing your environment for your mental state. This way, you learn to control yourself and your reactions.
To achieve that is very easy and very difficult at once.
Very easy: you don't know anybody else as well as yourself.
Very difficult: you can still surprise yourself, and not getting the desired results can be very frustrating since there's nothing from „outside” to put a blame on.
The first step to self-control
… is to be completely, utterly honest with yourself. Don't try to fool yourself, you have to have „solid grounds in order to grow a high tree”.
Why am I sometimes not honest with myself?
Because I don't like making mistakes. Because I can't admit to own weaknesses (because it feels „bad”). But well, have you ever tried to teach something to a man who thinks he knows everything? It's nearly impossible, isn't it? The same will happen to you if you can't accept your current situation. You just won't make any progress. The mentioned „solid grounds” are also essential when you want to bounce up. If the grounds are soft, you can't jump high, if at all.
Make it honest and make it a real commitment. Simply saying to yourself e.g. „I'm not good at juggling” isn't enough if deeply inside you think the opposite. Be honest with yourself! Speak from the bottom of your heart. Don't mix your opinion with your hopes. The time for hopes and wishes will come later on.
The second step of self-control
… is to make observation. Distance yourself from the situation. Develop a form of a „second consciousness” that is analyzing yourself in a given situation. Try to see how you react and, which is most important, WHY. Understand yourself and your motives, emotions, thoughts... notice similar traits to your parents personalities. Recall the origins of your reactions: maybe you react in „automatic mode” because of a remembered situation from the past?
Analyze yourself well. Analyze yourself constantly. As often as you can.
Only after your knowledge about yourself is high enough, you can train to achieve on-demand concentration. Only when you know what produces which mental states ... you'll be able to invoke the mental state you desire: concentration.
To invoke concentration, try to remember the feeling of being concentrated. You should know it already, having a good grasp on your emotions and feelings from your constant self-analysis process. Each mental state has an exceptional flavour, so remind yourself how it feels to be concentrated. Remember it well, it will be your guiding sign.
Technique of concentration
I'll quote for you three sentences that will be helpful here.
Carrot on a stick: „Set goals...”
The motivation is often an underestimated asset of any activities involving a competition. It's even considered as a little „bad thing”, and people determined to win are often perceived as either selfish or unsocial.
Well, the point is: „Do not let the enemy see your spirit”
You can have a great determination inside but not showing it off. Also... there's a catch in what you should be really determined to do.
To defeat everyone? … nope.
To win a tournament? … not really!
… to overcome ones own limitations? YES!
… to test your skills and ability to adapt? YES!
Because you have to remember that you should „never compete with anyone but yourself”
And... you can say about yourself that you were determined if at every minute of a tournament you were doing everything to fulfil your goals.
The moment of trial: „put forth the best in you”
There's one thing you should know about a state of concentration: it costs you energy! So don't be foolish enough to try to be constantly focused – you'll drain yourself in no time. Most of the time, you should be...:
„(...) determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak.”
Observe the situation without engaging in it. If you feel you start getting involved (e.g. you see a tense fight and your emotions are going up), make a simple note about this fact and just slowly distance yourself again. The worst thing you can do is to feel bad because you allowed yourself to get involved. Just DON'T! Remember, just be honest with yourself and don't judge yourself. Any extra emotions will only cost you your precious mental energy.
But when the time comes, you have to concentrate. Make a conscious decision: „Now it's time to concentrate!”, and follow one of the best techniques around...
Diverting attention: „This moment is the only thing that matters”
… and nothing else should bother you. Don't worry about anything, not even results. Be assured that „the best in you will reveal itself”.
Focus on the elusive point in which inhale becomes exhale, and exhale becomes inhale. This moment... is the only thing that matters.
Important … unimportant... (still breathing)
This fight... is important and unimportant at the same time. Important for the moment, for your quest here at the tournament, but at the same time completely irrelevant in the bigger scale. Focus on the paradox to make your ego be amazed at the concept, and so to let go any distracting thoughts.
Focus on the elusive point in which inhale becomes exhale, and exhale becomes inhale. Feel it... feel the potential in it. Feel the vibrating energy in it. Don't try to name it!
…. that would be the whole technique.
I won't write things like „My mind gets sharper blah blah”... since it would be more an affirmation than concentration technique. Your mind just WILL be sharper and clear from thoughts. Again... if a thought or two will happen to pass through you mind, just accept it and let it go... it's nothing that important really.
In this state... all your experience, knowledge and skills are at your disposal, and your reaction time is brilliant.
So what else can you do?
Go and practice it!