Hapkido and SMS – some of life’s most important technology.
Technology was originally intended to provide us with advancements and make our life easier. But perhaps the best technology is the simple tools that we’re all equipped with and often don’t use. When many of us see “SMS” we connect the acronym for Short Message Service to texting. Text messages along with social media post, likes and instant messaging have become our primary method of communication for many people. Even so to the point where they’re the first things that we check in the morning before reconnecting with our loved ones in the same house and even more unfortunate, before even “checking in” with ourselves. It’s easy and maybe even expected to have a state of constant mental unrest with that type of habit. Fortunately, Hapkido offers us a solution.
In Hapkido we learn to use our internal SMS to take more control of our mental dialogue and how we respond to external situations. Our internal Short Message Service is improved through Stretching, Meditation & Sleep (SMS improved through SMS). The absence of any of this three-part messaging system can cause mixed messages and results in a much choppier way of living.
As Hapkido practitioners, we have all been taught and told the value of stretching for the benefit of better technique. What often goes untaught, is that stretching allows for proper oxygen flow throughout the body, which can affect not only our flexibility, but also our ability to heal, recover and our mental state. In his book “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds”, David Goggins, world renowned navy seal, extreme distance runner and motivational speaker, discusses in one of his chapters how stretching literally saved his life. Goggins is broadly known for his incredible running feats and for his pull no punches speaking style that motivates many people. However, what many people don’t realize Is that in his early-40s he began to experience extreme swelling in lumps and inflated lymph nodes around his body and doctors feared that his body was failing him. As a dedicated athlete who had previously exercised the discipline necessary to go from being nearly 300 pounds to trimming himself down to below the weight requirement of 191 pounds to qualify for seal training, Goggins was living a disciplined and healthy lifestyle and willing to make whatever adjustments were needed to continue training and get healthy. He went to numerous specialist and was simply told that his health was fading, and they couldn’t figure out the cause. He began stretching to loosen up some of the tension. Overtime, his lumps and swelling began to go away, so he increased his stretching. He now stretches at a minimum of two hours per night having only missed two days over the last six years and he’s near debilitating illness hasn’t reappeared despite high physical demands that he puts on his body.
Meditation is also a Tool/Technology that practitioners of Hapkido put to use. For both adults and children, in our school, Black Knight Martial Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, meditation is one of the earliest techniques that we share with students. Some people will go their entire lifetime without finding themselves in a physical fight, but every person living will find themselves in mental and emotional battles throughout most every day of life. Meditation helps to strengthen the mind and bolster control over the body by applying conscious effort to life forces that many people take for granted and accept as being autonomic. In meditation, we find A comfortable, but upright posture to put the body in both a relaxed and a focused state. Then we close our eyes to reduce the distractions of the eye next, we begin to take control of our breathing and focus on a controlled level and tempo of inhalation and exhalation. In doing this, the mind clears, the emotions settle, and the pulse rate slows down. Years ago, I had the good fortune of attending Oprah Winfrey’s Vision Tour in Atlanta. This was around the time that I reconnected with Hapkido as an adult. While there were many nuggets of wisdom imparted to attend these over the weekend, the one that stood out to me the most is Oprah‘s focus on daily meditation. She proclaims that it is one of the most significant shifts in her life and for that reason, she has a meditation room in her home where she spends whatever amount of time, she has available at the start of her day, in brief meditation. She acknowledges, that some days that might be twenty seconds on the way out the door and other days it’s ten minutes or more. Regardless of the length of time, given the improvements that she has seen since she started meditating, she doesn’t miss a day.
Discipline is a core tenant that every Dojang strives for and desires from their students. Specifics of what that means are often left up to the individual practitioner. My experience has been, that most Hapkido practitioners are go-getters. They are people striving for great feats in life. In many cases, they have found heightened levels of success in their pursuits outside of the Dojang. However, for many of us, the thing that we sacrifice the most and the easiest is sleep. And our ambition to grow as practitioners, professionals, and people, we are often willing to work late hours into the night and wake up only a few hours later well before the sun is come up. While this type of thinking is often subscribed to as an indication of hard work and presented with a badge of honor in America, it is actually potentially damaging and not taking advantage of one of our greatest tools for growth. Mentally and physically were taught that the exercise builds our muscles, however process of muscular development is to breakdown the tissue through exercise and for it to be recovered, rebuilt & restored stronger through rest. When we sacrifice the rest component, we limit our ability to grow. For most active adults, proper disciplined sleep means getting 7-9 hours per day.
This month, I challenge you to make your Internal SMS (Short Message Service) the most important messaging that you check each day by taking time for original SMS Technology (Stretching, Meditation & Sleep). You may say, I don’t have time to Stretch, Meditate and get 7-9 hours of Sleep. I understand, I can relate, and I suspect that Oprah Winfrey and David Goggins both felt that way at one time. My reminder to you is that even if you’re a new white belt with only a couple months of training, you’re much further down the path of mastery in our art than you were initially. You made it to this point by making subtle adjustments. Start by waking up three minutes earlier in the morning, stretching for two minutes, meditating for one minute and going to bed five minutes earlier than you usually have. As you get consistent, adjust your numbers up gradually and just like you’ve grown in Hapkido Physically, you will grow internally.
Virgil Lee Dortch
1st Dan Black Belt
Instructor/Kyo Sa Nim
Black Knight Martial Arts