Willingness - Know How - Capacity

By JJ Simon
Published on May 1st, 2012

I was listening to a podcast the other day and heard an interesting statement. It was in reference to training in meditation, but I believe it applies to all human endeavors. The podcast presenter noted, for any thing that we intend to do we have to have three things; Willingness, Know How, and Capacity.

Or put another way, we have to want to do a thing, have the specific knowledge required, and have developed the ability to accomplish the task.

Willingness is about desire and intention. Know How is about paying attention to learning and ability. Capacity is the application of what we learned.

We can apply this idea to the martial arts, but before I do, let’s take a look at doing something simpler. We’ll make an omelet. You are hungry; this is a need; you want an omelet. You desire it and are willing to make it, but do you know how? Have you ever made one? If you haven't then your knowledge is only theoretical not experiential. Capacity is completely experiential.

What about utensils, do you know if you need a pot, a pan, or a griddle? What specific ingredients will you choose? Eggs, milk, cheese, different vegetables, meat, do you know where to get these ingredients? Will you cook your omelet on high heat, medium or low heat? Which methods yield the best results? If you are cooking for more than one person, can you make multiple omelets at once?

The more omelets we make the more capacity we have. Capacity is gained by exercising our knowledge again and again in many different ways. We can make one omelet, two or five. We can cook them on a griddle or frying pan with meat, cheese, vegetables, or even with sauces. Building capacity is our road to mastery. The more methods and ingredients we know how to use and apply to the challenge (making an omelet) the vaster our experiential knowledge of the subject.

How does this “omelet model” apply to martial arts training? Once again, our intention (Willingness) must be clear; first we must want to learn a martial art.

Then we have to find a way to gain knowledge. Remember we are talking about experiential knowledge. We need a guide, a teacher of some sort. A skilled coach will provide us with knowledge piece by piece in a consistent and timely manner while we build capacity through practice and training.

All of the theories, concepts, and principles in the martial arts are like the ingredients in our omelet. The more theoretical knowledge we have the more “omelets” we need to make, that is, training to apply and internalize these theories. Skill building comes from the experience of how those theories fit together principle by principle. This is the “cooking” process.

If we continue this work over time we should be able to make a good omelet for ourselves (develop our Martial Arts skills). We will also be able to cook for others, (train effectively with our partners) and eventually, as teaching skills are internalized, coach others in the process of “cooking” too.

Many martial arts schools advance the idea they teach life skills as part of their overall approach. This marketing emphasis is often used to promote their children’s classes. The implication is that this kind of training gives people, especially children, the skills they need to meet the physical, mental and emotional challenges of their lives. If the training environment provides some sort of method that includes the three principles of Willingness, Know How, and Capacity, then their customers will have a better chance of developing both theoretical and experiential understanding. These “life skills” will be invaluable when they hit a stumbling block in their growth as people or as artists. Well trained students, using this model, will be able to determine whether their problem is one of unwillingness or a lack of knowledge or limited capacity. Once their diagnosis has been made, the student will know where to put their attention. Do they need to take a look at where they are unwilling? Do they need more information about how to work with the challenges of their current situation? Are they lacking in capacity?

As a coach these three ideas can also help us evaluate why a particular student may be struggling. Once diagnosed, it’s a lot easier to prescribe the proper series of exercises to remedy the situation. A well trained martial artist, coach, or cook has developed the Capacity and Know How, to make the best use of all of his “ingredients”.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: JJ Simon

JJ Simon has studied the Martial Arts for over a decade. In October of 2010, he tested for, and earned, his black belt at TheMALC's annual Residential . Mr. Simon has studied meditation since 1990 and has completed a number of Meditation retreats from 3 to 30 days under such noted teachers as Lama Surya Das, and in the Shambhala training tradition created by Chogyam

JJ has acted as a meditation coach for friends and martial arts associates since 1992. Mr. Simon is a tattoo artist of some renown with some 20 years of experience in the field. He owns Explosive Tattoo South in Salisbury, MD. JJ is also a painter, knife maker, and the Artistic Director for The Martial Arts Learning Community, Inc.

Other Articles by JJ Simon

Are you a martial artist and have advice or experiences you want to share? If so, contact our editorial team about becoming an author. Be part of our community, contribute an article.