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The Mind Is Like A Parachute

There's an expression, "The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it's open", and there certainly are situations where that's true and motivational. But I want to talk about the limits to this.

Some people will use this expression as a guiding beacon to go and train many different martial arts from many different instructors or even from many different styles. They believe that more is better so they seek to collect information and skills from a vast array of sources. They claim that their access to so many masters is better than access to only a few.

Well, I'm here to debunk that today.

First the positives. The expression is true in some contexts. When learning or when a new student, a closed mind will limit information intake and slow a person's progress. It's important to have an open mind. When more advanced, an open mind will allow a person to listen intelligently and pick up nuggets of new information. This skill of having an open mind can certainly be valuable. So I didn't miss the point of the expression.


Some things can't co-exist and if a person's mind is too open they will accept it and not realize there are problems. Let me illustrate. To become a professional high jumper, a person has to develop very strong and inflexible ankles. To become a professional swimmer, a person has to develop very flexible ankles. It's literally impossible to be a professional at both because the body requires opposite function. If the mind accepts the advice from a high jumper AND from a swimmer, there will be a conflict and the athlete will either realize this for themselves or will be limited to sub-professional levels.

This example happens at all levels. If an instructor advocates an angry mindset and another advocates a peaceful mindset, these two systems can't coexist in one athlete who wishes to play at the highest levels.

It's impossible to engrain details from a style that says "control two of your opponent's hands with one of yours" with a style that says "lock your opponent's wrist by grabbing his one hand with two of yours". Details from a ground fighting style will be at odds with a "never go to the ground" style.

Having too many sifus and too many details can actually muddy the waters if there is conflict at the higher levels.

Everybody can make something work on somebody. So just because it works does not make it ving tsun. There are lots of good styles and lots of good masters with good kung fu. Is it ving tsun or not depends on how closely it adheres to the principles of the system.

I don't intend to trash talk this great expression. What I wish to do is explore its boundaries, seek intelligent balance, and recommend not to have your parachute open to the point where everything everyone says gets accepted.


If you wish to learn more about ving tsun kung fu, or wish to sign up for a trial month (which includes a free uniform), or want a seminar or private lesson, please contact us.

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