I’m going to tell you something that you have never considered. The old guys, a hundred years ago, they didn’t know what they looked like. They had no means of self inspecting their forms to make they were right.
Odd, eh? But it’s true. Back a hundred years ago, especially in some of the third world countries that the martial arts flourished in, they didn’t have mirrors.
Nowadays we walk into training halls with mirrors covering the walls. We do our forms, and we inspect our movements, and we know what we look like. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad, but at least we can see ourselves.
The good is that we can adjust our forms. We can see our postural mistakes. The bad…well, let me explain.
There is this thing called narcissism. Falling in love with yourself…and the image of yourself. But image often doesn’t have anything to do with workability.
The martial arts rely on energy that is not always visible to the eye, and in using mirrors we start looking at our glorious form, and neglect to create the energy that the form, without obsessing on one’s self image, can create. We are not always able to perceive the depth to which we should sink our weight into the ground. We are not always able to perceive whether the tan tien is glowing and growing, and being used the way it should.
A punch should not be a polite line of turning fist, it should be a belly busting explosion of weight and emotion and the hell with the world! A block should not be a wave of flesh and bone, it should be a staunch stance with world shaking focus! A kick should not be the ability to do the splits vertical, it should be a sinking of the weight, a balance while tremendous energies are coursed through the leg and into the foot and…beyond.
A mirror is a great thing, it can impart a myriad of detail, and make us look incredibly pretty, but it doesn’t always generate the energy it takes to win a fight. Looking good might be great for evolution into video and hollywood, but it has limited value when it comes to the true martial arts. In the martial arts one must give up the image of self to find The True Art.