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Mark Moran
Dubbing Artist , Photographer , Web / Multimedia Designer
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How to Maintain Your Motivation for Training (12/14)

The other day I received an e-mail from a friend back in the U.S.  They were discussing their increasing lack of motivation to train in wushu.  Some of it was related to feeling they had started too late, or a lack of involvement in the school by other students or some other things.  I wrote out some of my thoughts on the subject for them, but thought it might be something that a lot of wushu athletes out there are/have been/will be dealing with.

I have changed the specifics to protect the innocent. ;-)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I know that it can

be difficult to discuss these things with the people you train with or

see regularly. I think that is why therapists exists. It is often

easier to talk to someone who is not directly involved in your

situation because they don’t have anything emotionally invested in

what you are saying and can be a little more objective about it. In

any case, I appreciate you feeling comfortable enough with me to tell

me what you are thinking and feeling.

What you are feeling is totally normal and natural. I’ve felt

it many times. Almost all the wushu athletes I know have felt it at

one time or another. You should never feel bad about feeling a lack

of motivation or some disinterest in training from time to time.

Because what defines you isn’t what you feel, so much as what you do

about those feelings. We can get that lack of motivation from a

variety of things and all of the things you mentioned are pretty

common situations.

Advanced student (or any students for that matter) leaving schools and

going off to do other things is pretty common. I can’t tell you how

many various iterations of students I have seen at Wushu West over the

years. The people who were there when I started left so long ago,

even the super old timers wouldn’t have a clue who they were.

By my count, the current “advanced” students are the 7th

generation of them since I started at Wushu West in 1995. I think

there is a turn-around every 2 – 4 years and this is pretty common

at most wushu schools, yours included. But what is important to

keep in mind is that your decision to train in wushu didn’t exist as a

result of those students being at the school. You decided to study

wushu because you found something in the sport itself worth pursuing.

As long as you keep that perspective in mind — that training wushu is

a personal decision not based on the actions of others — then that

can help you keep focused on your training.

Also, feeling disillusioned due to our age or circumstances in the

U.S. is quite common. None of us started as early as we would have

liked. Even some of the young athletes who started training as a

little kid occasionally lament at their situation of not having

access to wushu training at an early enough age. Sometimes I wish I

had started earlier too. i didnt’ start until I was 25 but I learned a long

time ago that it isn’t about not being given the chance to train at a

young ago or not being physically gifted in certain ways, so much as it

is about taking advantage of those opportunities that DO present

themselves to you.

I’ve had friends who went to China, saw the level that existed and

what it took the Chinese athletes to get there, and summarily gave up

wushu because they decided they would never be able to get to that

level. But is that the reason they took wushu in the first place? To

be as good as professional Chinese athletes? No, of course not. So

why compare ourselves to them? Why compare ourselves to anyone? It

doesn’t really accomplish anything except to bring up unecessary

comparisons that serve no purpose.

The only person we can compare ourselves to is ourselves. And the only

comparison we can make is between who we were and who we have become.

If who are you today is better at wushu than who you were yesterday,

or last year, or when you started wushu, then you are on the right

track. Wushu isn’t about fulfillling some abstract vision of the

perfect athlete. It is about self-improvement and personal


Why did you take wushu? The answer is because you liked it. Plain

and simple. We can get caught up with various issues like age or

physical ability or resources all we like. But if you are doing

something you enjoy, then you can consider yourself extremely lucky,

because not everyone in the world has the opportunity to be doing what

they love.

Ironically, many of the professional wushu athletes I know in China

are not as lucky as you. Because they don’t take wushu because they

love wushu, but because it is their job and they HAVE to train. And I

suppose, just like in any job for any one in the world, they make the

best of it and try to enjoy what they can. But if they had their

druthers, a lot of them would rather be doing something else.

Whenever I have a lack of motivation (which happens every so often) I

go back to the core of why I train in wushu. I watch the videos that

inspired me. I think of the first time I took wushu and how geeked

out about it I was. I remember the joy I had when I figured out a new

move or got down a new technique. And I think of the subtle pleasure

I experienced in the zen of training — from lacing up my feiyue

shoes, to going through the routine of saluting and warming up, to

stretching out and watching the sweat drip off my nose and on to the

wooden floor in the Finnish Hall — those times when it was just me

and a few other dedicated students training in wushu.

I don’t remember the crazy competitions or the wushu parties or the

super full classes or hanging out with the Beijing Wushu Team or Jet

Li. What I remember most fondly are the cool fall evenings,or rainy

spring sundays, walking up the stairs to the training hall, stretching

my stiffness, breaking a sweat, working like a dog, struggling with

each motion, and still loving every minute of it.

You can feel frustrated about your training. Its perfectly normal.

You can feel disillusioned or distraught or dismayed at your situation

with wushu. It is a natural reaction.

You can feel a lack of motivation for training or wonder if wushu is

really where your energy should be spent. It is totally valid.

But as long as you can remember why you started wushu. As long as you

can work through the hump and think back to those times when it wasn’t

about someone else or an abstract idea or whether or not you were

suited perfectly for the sport — but it was about doing something for

yourself, and the reality of being able to train in this cool sport

called wushu, stretching your personal and physical boundaries in new

and exciting ways — then you will understand that all you really

need to be successful at wushu is to enjoy it.

It isn’t the results you get from wushu — medals, techniques,

accolades or otherwise — that are your true source of motivation to

train. In fact, as soon as you start focusing on the external

stimulation of wushu is when wushu stops being something you are

passionate about.

Wushu isn’t a destination. there isn’t a day when you can say “Okay,

I’ve finished learning wushu. Now what?” anymore than there is a day

when you can say “Okay, I’ve learned everything there is to know about

life. Now what?” Becuase there is ALWAYS more to learn — but more

importantly there is always more within yourself to develop; paths to

explore; virtues to cultivate; abilities to uncover.

And for myself, THAT is what keeps me motivated to keep training, even

after 15 years, 3 knee injuries, wushu politics, bad relationships and

a stock-pile of physical issues that most people would gladly steer

clear of. Those things don’t really matter in the long run as long as

training in wushu has ultimately taught me valuable lessons about who

I am as a person.

I’ve always thought that training in wushu (and I suppose any art form

or sport is similar) is a great magnifying class on one’s own life.

So many of the issues we go through in our day to day life come out

when we train in wushu. And the trials and tribulations that we

experience during our wushu training are often mirrors of the same

issues we deal with outside the wushu guan. When we push ourselves

beyond our comfort zone (whatever the medium we use to do that) it

provides us not only with an education about who we are, but also with

a valuable opportunity to learn, grow and develop our inner being.

Anyway … I probably wrote more than you were interested in reading.

But, I suppose that after all this time in wushu I can still get fired

up about these things. And I suppose if nothing else, that is

something of a testament to how much wushu (and life) has to offer you

in the years to come.

Let me know your thoughts! Do you agree with this e-mail? Do you think I’m off my rocker? I’m curious what other people’s thoughts are. I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

No related posts.

about 11 years ago 0 likes  2 comments  0 shares
Photo 105033
You made me cry!!....it's as if I had had a 2 hour conversation with you about the frustrations I'm experiencing in my wushu career at the moment. Yes it is all the above.....the age - politics - ugh :-( - and injuries. But your perspective on why I started....is true. I started wushu after watching - THE ONE...and Kung Fu Panda. (LOL) When I started - I had a "frozen shoulder" - aching joints and just bad general health. My son and I joined our local wushu club and I was hooked....my health improved - my joints stopped aching and I could move my arms again..... Now a year and a half later......I have become a bit disillusioned.......(teacher) - that's all I may say. It's hard to love wushu here at the tip of Africa....here where soccer and rugby is the thing. There is not a wushu club around every corner, and the ignorance about the sport is astounding. But you've helped to rekindle the flame with your honest blog....and I thank you! as always. Let's hope that in the near future - Wushu will not only benefit me personally - but that I can share it - even if only facilitating getting this disciplined form of exercise into the townships and schools....(where the kids know who Bruce Lee and Jet Li is)....and Francois Pienaar is just frowned upon - they won't be watching INVICTUS anytime soon.....but ENTER THE DRAGON! JIA YOU!
about 11 years ago
Mark moran in spokane 920x920
@mhough: I'm really happy to read what you wrote. Thanks so much!
about 11 years ago


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Languages Spoken
english, cantonese, mandarin, japanese
Location (City, Country)
Xian, China
Member Since
September 1, 2005