MJ Bridger is a fantasy author preparing to unleash his work on the world. Currently residing in his home country of Wales with his wife, daughter and highly trained attack cats. Having already written two books, he thought it would be fun to emulate Hollywood and reboot his own fantasy franchise, except to do it better. For a laugh, also wrote some short-stories for his fantasy world, because apparently one idea was not enough. Has a troubling fascintion with martial arts and taking on guys much bigger and better than he is.
Can there every be such a thing as over-rehearsing? As this week sees us Yellow Sashes keep up the revision for our pending grading, the constant repetition of the stuff we have been practicing what feels like forever finally started to get to me. I felt like at this point, if I don't know it after this long, then I ain't gonna get it at all. Sure I messed up some strikes this week, but that would be just one or two things in a syllabus that doesn't just count strikes as its unit of measurement. But even for those of us who are particularly hard on ourselves, relief came when a little anecdote was shared by Sifu that set the stage for what the grading will truly be all about - composure.
A lot of writing and productivity guides tell us that we always have to write. Make up that word count no matter what. Always have someone that you are accountable to so that they can keep you on deadline. That may work for you guys out there, but not so much for me. Since retiring from Web development to focus on my mental health and thereby get my butt in gear to write again, the Universe in all its glory has found many interesting and varied ways of keeping me operating at a slow burn. And recently it has been to do with the temperature and being unable to sleep. However, with the weather becoming blessedly cooler once more, words are coming again, much to my relief. So maybe the advice doesn't always work for everyone.
This week has all been about practice for the upcoming grading. Stance work, remembering where in the sequences things are, and sometimes embarassing and painful fails when hitting the practice pads have been the mainstay. With still a week to go I find myself saying/typing - "Are we there yet?"
Alan Moore has said that he believes that writers are the closest thing the modern day has to shamans (shamen?). " Magic in its earliest form is often referred to as "the art". I believe this is completely literal. I believe that magic is art and that art, whether it be writing, music, sculpture, or any other form is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words, or images, to achieve changes in consciousness." This was made very apparent to me when I came across the band Heilung's 2017 performance at Castlefest. Some who know me better than others know of my dalliances with various forms of occultism, spiritualism and magickal practices. So would anyone really be surprised to find that my secondary reason for writing, beyond "having a book in me", would be because I want to make magic?
The baking sun has sapped most of my energy this week. Anyone from foreign climes where the sun bakes the land to a much greater degree than here will likely poke fun. I do have to point out however that since I live on an island that sits between the Gulf Stream and the east-to-west frosty breath of Siberia, our homes are made to retain heat, because we don't want to die of hypothermia in the winter. This does however mean that when the sun bakes us, our homes keep the heat in and cook us allthemore. As such, I have managed little this week. Even Kung-fu was more taxing than usual, not just from the heat but the lack of sleep. Hell, I'm sleeping in the kitchen at the moment because it appears too hot for me upstairs. So, my update this week will be brief due to weather.
A short update today. No Kung-fu this week, so I've decided to pass the time with alcohol instead (kidding). Monk-son of Kunlun : Phoenix continues on. Still no end in sight, yet. Have put off a foot injury for years, so am finally seeing someone about it. And finally, a Black Dog episode that came out of nowhere, and disappeared just as quickly. Take this as a reason to keep taking your meds even when you feel you're doing okay. The Dog can creep up on you and dig its teeth in without even a moment's notice. And that's why it's important to do that one thing it makes you feel like you really don't have the energy to do : talk to someone about it.
Bit of a combination update this week. After months of very on-off writing, I finally have the final battle of Monk-son of Kunlun : Phoenix down. Still first draft, but still. An update came along for Vermintide II, which was nice. Got an old game out to try playing again, but stability issues prevented me from being able to play it for long. I once again used a Tai Chi move/technique in Kung-fu to help me during sparring. I also got told off (first time in a while) for showing the beginners something, when that's Sifu's job - hey, I'm keen dammit. I got my arms nearly beaten out of the sockets by a Kung-fu brother's top-notch punching (I was holding the punch pads). And the school summer holidays loom every closer. Thankfully, help appears at hand.
So you want to start at that thing that you feel appears to be your True Calling. You look out into the World (or the Web) and start trying to find where you can start. And then you find everyone under the sun has their differing ideas on how you go about it and become a success. They list all the things you'll need and all the stuff you'll need to do. And suddenly you have so many damned choices and things to do that it appears all too overwhelming. You freak out and suddenly you start procrastinating and then you end up getting nothing done. So what could be the answer? Well, for those of us who suffer from anxiety about anything and everything there appears to be a little something we can do to ease the burden of where to start and what to do : lists. It seems simple and yet it has helped me immensely in getting my week sorted and my work done. But not just with writing.
Martial arts can be a very rewarding experience. You dedicate your time and effort to it and you (hopefully) notice the benefits as you go on - better physical health, power generation, posture, etc. But it can also be a source of great frustration. This seems particularly the case if you have a history of previous martial arts training. Trying to quantify precisely what is so frustrating about it I've always thought it was a matter of my poor self-esteem - feeling like a failure for not being able to "get it." But, after having a conversation about this very subject with one of my Kung-fu brothers, the answer was given to me. "Having to start at Square One again."