“Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” Bruce Lee
One of the key themes in my life can be found in my practice of Brazilian Jiu JitsuThe heart of this theme can be derived from the quote from Bruce Lee above. That theme is that we create our own ‘Art,’ whatever that Art may be.
I do not ‘learn someone else’s jiu jitsu.’ I create MY jiu jitsu. I develop MY game. MY Art. MY practice. It’s true, much of my training comes from the school where I train, under a very talented instructor. But, I am not learning his Jiu Jitsu. I am learning mine through him.
It is a very empowering concept, this idea that you are in charge of developing your Art. You have to consider more than just the techniques that you learn. My Jiu Jitsu is:
- 1 part techniques (which I learn from others, practice with others, and practice by myself)
- 1 part conditioning (also learned at some point from others but undertaken by me)
- 1 part genetics (things like height, base intelligence, and physical makeup)
- 3 parts philosophy (my own, influenced by many sources)
That’s right, my Jiu Jitsu is half philosophy, which is unique to me because it is made up entirely of my thoughts and beliefs. My philosophy drives everything I do from Jiu Jitsu to yoga to writing and everything in-between. I learn my own way. I perform techniques a little differently due to my fitness level, my physical characteristics, and my style. The same can be said for any Art. Sports, painting, and writing all fall into this ‘Art’ category.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE. Every pitcher in baseball throws a fastball but, not all of them throw at the same speed, utilize the same strategies regarding when and where to throw that fastball, or throw with the exact same motions. They didn’t all learn from the same coach. They all have different physical characteristics. They all have their own fastball and their own style.
There are things that you can do to develop your own Art, whatever it may be. Here are some ideas for you:
Explore all options
There are many ways to skin a cat, so the saying goes. Research your Art, profession, hobby, or whatever it is you are trying to master. Do you write? Research different authors and their styles. Learn about different types of writing. Do you do Yoga? Learn about the different styles, read books by different Yogis, or speak with all of the schools in your area. By learning as much as you can about your Art, you will have more tools from which to create your Art.
Learn how someone else does it
Here is where teachers and coaches enter into the picture. What can you learn from others? Are there classes that you can take? Is there a skilled artist that can show you how to paint a certain way? Cooking techniques that you are having trouble mastering? Get a teacher! But, remember, whatever you learn, it is up to you whether and how to integrate it into your Art. There are many activities in any Art that have to be done a certain way. But, there are many more that can be changed, tweaked, or tailored to work with an individual and their specific circumstances.
Pay attention to what ‘calls’ to you
Some techniques and styles will seem ‘more right’ or ‘more interesting’ to you than others. There is a reason for this; don’t ignore it. If something feels right to you, or if something just seems really interesting to you, then it should likely be integrated into your style, whether or not you are initially good at it or not. The same can be said about potential hobbies, jobs, or interests. Does drawing fascinate you but you are terrible at it? So what? Do it anyway. Being interested enough in a topic to focus on it all the time is 90% of the battle, which leads me to #4…
Integrate and practice
Once you have defined what calls to you, make it a part of you. Practice the technique/action/skill as much as you can until it becomes second nature. Is it a certain style of music or a specific instrument? Focus on that style. A certain type of photography? Cool. See what you can create using that style as much as you possibly can. When paired with #3, you will find that you can practice for hours and hours without getting bored. Only with practice can mastery be reached.
Find others to view what you have integrated into your practice. “I don’t like that” or “that doesn’t look good” or “that didn’t work for me at all” are unacceptable answers. “What don’t you like about it?” “What specifically about the way it looks seems off to you?” “Is there anything that sort of worked?” Break down EVERYTHING! Just because something does not work once doesn’t mean that it is wrong for you, won’t work with some tweaking, or doesn’t work for someone else. Also, get feedback from multiple people. Do not be afraid to share what you are doing or how good (or bad) you are at it.
Creating your Art is both empowering and exciting. Follow the principles above and you will find that, not only will you be able to create your own unique Art, you will be able to master it. For me, mastery is the ultimate goal of any Art, though the definition of mastery is as unique to you as your Art is! What is your Art and how are you constantly getting better?