If one point can’t be drilled into each student enough is the idea of effort and consistency. In our world of fast food, remote controls, light switches, movies, etc., most people expect results to come on command. They expect instant gratification. People start a diet or exercise routine in the morning and expect to see a different body that night when they look at themselves in the mirror or wonder how much weight they lost when they step on the scale. Some people are ambitious enough to turn the TV off for a night and read a few pages of a book – only to set the book aside because the beginning was too boring. We expect to see immediate results and constant feedback or else we believe something isn’t right. However, that is not the way things work… not with kung fu and not with most things in life worth pursuing.
In fact, what is happening every day you train is “invisible growth”. The development of kung fu skill is the pursuit of perfecting all the details that make up the art. This perfection is gradual – it’s a process that requires painstaking effort and consistency mentioned time and again in class. Because there are so many nuances to the movements, you won’t really know what you’re getting better at day in and day out. By the time you recognize you’ve gotten better at some aspect of training, you’ve practiced the techniques over and over and over again – even many hundreds and thousands of times. It’s quite likely that it is someone else telling you how much better you’ve gotten because you can’t even tell the difference. When they ask what you’ve done to get better, your answer will likely be, “I don’t know – I just trained!” because there was probably no aha moment. Those people probably weren’t around to watch you in class day in and day out. They had and have the same opportunity as you to get better.
One last concept to help grasp the idea of “Invisible Growth” is that of compound interest – which was dubbed “the 8th wonder of the world.” by Albert Einstein. “Compounding” has the same benefit to your kung fu skill as it does to money. When it comes to the compounding of money – saving $20 a day and compounding it at 8%/year will yield $109,767 in 10 years, $353,412 in 20 years, $894,215 in 30 years, and $2,094,604 in 40 years. No small sum for half a life of saving. Although more money was saved from day 1 to year 30, there was much more money earned by the compounding effect during years 30-40. This is the 8th wonder of the world working in your favor. When it comes to compounding kung fu skill, the same phenomena will occur. As you put your time in and learn movements and techniques, much will be new and their will be no compounding going on – yet. As years go by and your body has internalized many of the basics, the compounding effect will kick in. New movements will take little effort to learn, understand and utilize. Your skill will flow as your body has memorized how to effortlessly move, react, and adapt to change.
By training an hour everyday you’d hit 10,000 hours of training in about 30 years and become a “kung fu millionaire”.