Can everybody change?

You cannot do what you want
while you don't know what you are doing.
Moshé Feldenkrais

We always find ourselves in the same situations with the same types of people, are always confronted by the same problems and always have the same negative experiences. How can we free ourselves from all this?

I am sitting on the front passenger seat on the journey from Langenzell to north Germany, thinking about a topic that has recently been raised by several major German magazines. Change (transformation) is not only the central concern and objective of the (external) physical WingTsun, but also that of the inner (mental, psychological) WingTsun, i.e. the 3rd level. At some time or other we realise that remaining as we are, we always find ourselves in the same situations with the same types of people, are always confronted by the same problems and always have the same negative experiences. How can we free ourselves from all this? For example by employing the general WT principle "Free yourself from your own strength", for the right to choose what kind of a person we want to be is a fundamental birthright. Just as we can counter physical attacks in many different ways, we can respond to exigencies of life in many different ways if we have freed ourselves from our old attitudes and convictions. We can be different, our thinking, feelings and actions can become different, people will treat us differently and our whole life will change! Nature has not brought us into the world as complete, fully-formed beings, but only developed us to a level that is useful to Nature. We are like a new house that has been handed over to its owner without fixtures and fittings in the attic space. Installing these, i.e. our own further development, is a matter for us, for in a certain sense we are self-creating, self-preserving, self-healing and self-organising beings. We can develop further (to a higher level) or stay as we are, living and dying just as we came into the world – Nature does not care which. The future perspectives available to us humans are stagnation (everything stays as it is), degeneration (things get worse) and evolution (higher development). So can we choose our own fate, or even create our destiny ourselves? Whenever otherwise intelligent people do not change, this is because they do not want to change. It may well be that they would like to change, i.e. that they have the wish, but they do not possess the necessary strength and energy to want (will) change and make the constant effort required to achieve it. The stumbling block is therefore primarily the necessary energy or willpower. This is why the development of real will is one of the intermediate aims in inner WT. It is unfortunate that in our present state, we humans do not have the foggiest idea of what "real" will is. We almost always confuse will with stubbornness, foot-stamping petulance, getting our own way and automatic rejection of things we do not like. We cannot achieve (lasting) success without the right will to see ourselves for what we are in all our ugliness and weakness, and without freeing ourselves from old habits, attitudes and (physical) postures, for we ourselves have developed resistances which are designed to prevent our fundamental convictions from changing. The second and probably greatest obstacle to personal higher development (for this is the only change that interests us) is that we live our lives under the incorrect impression (which is incidentally encouraged by Nature) that everything about us is ok, that we are all nice, benevolent people who only need a little fine-tuning here and there. We imagine that we already possess all the capabilities which still remain to be developed if we really want to become a new person with a new being that will not attract the same "fate" again and again. For example, we imagine that we have a strong will without knowing what "will" really is. Anybody who believes he already has an attribute will not make much of an effort to acquire it, however. This is why WT begins with the requirement to empty your own cup and start with a completely new, little idea (Siu-Nim-Tao). Somebody who has previously done e.g. Karate or Jiu-Jitsu will perceive this as being reborn, and must get rid of old, cherished ideas and illusions. Disillusionment is associated with negative feelings, sadness and a bitter after-taste, i.e. with a feeling of disappointment, heartbreak, letdown and disenchantment. But in fact being dis-illusioned is the best thing that can happen to us. Dis-illusioning ourselves (e.g. with respect to our own capabilities) is an act of emancipation in line with the WT requirement "Free yourself from your own strength". Dis-illusionment is something positive which leads to freedom from the shackles in which we have bound ourselves. But if somebody wants to free us from these familiar shackles, we are by no means happy and grateful but respond with negative feelings, for we have become so accustomed to these shackles that they have become part of us and we do not wish to lose them. Paradoxically we feel safe with our shackles! And while sitting in our prison we actually feel safe from disappointments and dis-illusionment! In fact this prison is only a figment of our imagination, but there is a huge difference between someone who has realised that he is sitting in a prison and somebody who is not even aware of it. Only those who are clearly aware of their own situation, and who know themselves, are able to free themselves! However, to break out of our prison we need leaders, i.e. people who have already successfully broken out themselves. Only they can help us with escape tools, tricks, plans and encouraging advice. The problem is that we are already born in our prison, as our parents have also spent their entire lives there. Our upbringing and school education do the rest to raise the walls of the prison higher and higher. For this reason an "alternative secondary education" is required which teaches us how to recognise our lamentable but not hopeless situation and – in line with WT principles – escape from it. But the wish to become free must come from the individual himself, for nobody can be freed by force and nobody can be led to understanding against his "will". And it is better for somebody to remain content and ignorant in prison than to take half-measures and – to continue our imagery – get stuck in the prison wall. Those who do not want to get stuck or stop halfway need more energy, and this is obtained by knowing oneself, becoming conscious of oneself and by transformation in the Taoist sense. But while we still fool ourselves and ascribe pseudo-capabilities to ourselves which only exist in our imagination, we cannot know ourselves. "Know yourself" must precede any change, for if you do not know where your car is rusting, you will fail to carry out a thorough restoration and merely paint over the rusted areas, rather than initiate fundamental change (Siu-Nim-Tao). You cannot change without inner vigilance, without observing yourself, getting to know yourself and examining and relieving your outer and inner tensions. Only somebody who has recognised his outer and inner attitudes and points of view, and therefore his basic inner convictions, is able to change. Those who do not know what really drives them will continue to respond in the same old way and according to old habits. Only those who are attentive and alert, and know what they are doing, can do what they want to do. The question should therefore not be: "CAN everybody change?", and neither should it be: "Do we WANT to change?", but rather "HOW CAN we want (will) to change?". By working on ourselves and battling with ourselves. This is an inner battle which we will eventually win, because we use the intelligent WT principles we have experienced in our physical training (obtain information, offer no resistance, give way, borrow strength etc.). I am not saying that only the path of inner WT leads to change – in fact there are many paths to this goal – but it is not only in a physical confrontation that the WT strategy is the one that leads to a more rapid and lasting victory!

Keith R. Kernspecht