The Prize Divides

by John Hackett


“This short article was inspired while I was reflecting on some advice my Wu Shu teacher gave me years ago”.

Part of an old saying goes “When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill. If the prize is a brass buckle his eyesight starts to fail”.

The same is true for anyone who focuses on the end result, that is winning, or a gold medal, instead of focusing on the job at hand. Dealing with your opponent.

Whether at competition or in self defence it is crucial to release your conscious mind, stop thinking about what you will or will not do, and just act at the moment of opportunity. The conscious mind is slow and dull, it simply is incapable of acting with the speed necessary to achieve the “prize”.

At a competition it is understandable to observe your opponents in previous rounds and try to work out their strengths and weaknesses. But when competing then the subconscious mind that has stored this information must be allowed to take over. This is not easy to do, it takes time and practice.

To give ourselves over completely to the subconscious is in the first instance a conscious deliberate act of will.

If we are to prevail in any contest against a skilled opponent then this problem of trusting the subconscious mind and acting and reacting intuitively is a problem which must be overcome.

To let the conscious mind rule the body in any conflict situation is a big mistake. If your opponent scores on you, then you must put that out of your mind and start again. If you think about his last score he is certain to score again. You have allowed his scoring to draw you back into using your conscious mind and you are divided. A house divided will fall.

The conscious mind also harbours many fears that may or may not be based in fact. One of these fears, is “fear of injury”. Many people worry about getting injured. They will tell you that this is not the case, but it is. When this happens, fear is in control and anxiety divides the mind. You now have to think every time you defend or attack instead of having your subconscious mind act intuitively for you in all these situations.

Your conscious mind will play out scenarios as you are trying to deal with the opponent right in front of you. All of these unnecessary thoughts impede your progress and ultimate victory, and may in fact lead directly to your defeat. This is particularly relevant in a self defence situation.

The prize, “victory”, or simply “doing your best” will never be yours when self doubt or fear is allowed to enter your mind.

Release your conscious mind and trust your subconscious. Do not concentrate on “the prize”, the “prize” divides. Instead let your subconscious mind put all your skills to work and just do. It is the struggle and our commitment to it that is important, the end result is still undecided.

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