Not as good as I used to be? or never as good as I thought I was?

I used to spin all the time in my late teens and early twenties chucks, staff, sword and anything else I could get my hands on. I never really stopped I just ended up spinning less often and less often and eventually was only spinning on rare occassion to show a few moves to new friends who where interested in learning some nunchaku.
I found some new inspiration by trying firespinning but good locations to practice where hard to find and also I had a rather significant drinking problem that was causing lack of focus, weight gain and lethargy. Long story short I quit drinking in december 2017 and as 2018 progressed I decided to start being serious about spinning again and most importantly this time around I was more interested in flow art than martial art.
As I got back into things I noticed that I really sucked and couldn’t seem to snap out of it, I had core techniques and speed, I could move around and strike but aside form a few favortie combos my flow was total garbage, so I had to ask myself- ” Am I not as good as I used to be? or was I never as good as I thought I was?
The short answer was both and the long answer is too long and complicated to write out. It was a relief to be honest with myself and realize there was alot for me to learn and develop. I went from feeling I had got old and sucked to feeling inspired and challenged to pick up where I left off on my journey

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  1. Jay, that is an awesome story man. I’m really glad that it inspired you instead of disheartened you. The rabbithole is infinite… it just keeps going down, down, down…so what I tell everyone is just “Enjoy the journey!” It sounds cliche but I’m telling the truth when I say, there are times I wish I was a beginner again. So many people want to rush and become really good, but I made the most progress and was the most excited about my progress in the beginning, when I moved from “I don’t know if I can ever do that” to “I nailed it! Yes!” That happens so much more in the old days. 🙂

  2. Hello, Jay. What you are describing is what psychology calls state-dependent learning. An often used example of this is the college student who crams for a test yet cannot recall the information on the test day. The reason this occurs is that the student learned the information in a particular state of consciousness (e.g. studying in their dorm, isolated from everyone else to remove distractions, listening to music, and probably consuming all sorts of stimulants like coffee). Now when they go to take that test they are anxious, physically uncomfortable, and probably tired from cramming the night before. Not to mention, there is likely a lot of tension and anxiety permeating the room from their classmates. Sufficed to say, they are nowhere near the same physiological and psychological states they were in when learning the information so they are hard-pressed to recall that information on the spot.

    The same can be said regarding martial arts. Training in the classroom in uniform without the desire to hit your opponent as hard as you can doesn’t instantly translate to the street where all the variables are different. Your training partners aren’t going to pull a knife out of nowhere and try to stab you for instance. And it should go without saying that there will likely be someone to intervene should your partner get out of hand. All of these impact our thought-processes, consciously or otherwise.

    I, too, have spun while drunk. Hell, I treated it as a sobriety test; if I felt the impact, then I must not be drunk enough. I used to have this whole routine where I spun with beer in hand while lighting and smoking a cigarette. All those skills I could not for the life of me pull off sober. It was all the more frustrating knowing why (as described above) so I decided to outsmart my own mind. I’d get fucked up while maintaining a meditative focus, alternating between alcohol and water during each session to maintain that drunken flow state. As these sessions went on I’d adjust the independent variables (type of alcohol, duration, level of inebriation, type of meditation, etc.). It got to the point that I could control my actions regardless of whether I had trouble standing unassisted. Some drunken master type shit if you will. Outside of spinning, this skill has saved my ass more than once when partying with people who turned out to be violent drunks. By creating this elaborate experiment and using myself as a guinea pig, it gave me the mental discipline to dissociate from the addiction. Perhaps one day I will write a book on these experiences.

    Congratulations on breaking your addiction! No victory is as important than the one where we conquer the demon within.