“Enough room for an ox to lay down.”
That’s the quote about how much room you need to practice. So why do we need to dress up in costumes, perform training rituals, and have clean, level, brightly lit spaces to practice in?
Humans are dumb.
We need to have some Pavlovian training to do anything in this life. Beginners need ritual, routine, safety, special clothes, and the right incense. Then we can become accustomed to a familiar place, scent, sound, etc. When we are trying to focus on our own training. Once you have been in the training hall a few months it becomes background to what is really going on in it. But only the real students realize this level. Most will like the cool swords and shiny trophies and pay their fees a year or ten and never learn anything. We have all met them in our training halls – the ones we wish would stop showing up.
When it is time to move on to a more difficult level of work fear makes an appearance. To try new things may mean you are not what you consider ‘good’ at them. This means you judge yourself or have the madness that you think others will judge you on your unskilled first thousand tries. So instead we will do more of the same rather than leap into the lion’s mouth. Putting a toe in the water of training for twenty years off and on does not make you wet. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.
Try removing the fixtures of your comfort in training. Slowly, one by one adjusting to each in their own time. I started with less lighting, then small spaces, uneven ground, blindfolded, in the forest at night, near the little Creek on iron mountain. Every thing that is removing your training ‘space’ from the real world (nature) is protecting you from distraction and discomfort. Integrating your practice with the world around you – still balanced on uneven ground, doing standing training in the wind (you can’t be still, can you?), Moving your practice between trees but keeping to your form, or disassembling your “form” (choreography) to allow it to run through these obstacles. These things make a real difference in skills and understanding.
I know every real Master I have ever trained with or chatted with. Every one of them was dressed in their normal clothes, teaching at a park, or on their garage roof, or under the eves of a market with no shops. Seems like more than coincidence to me.
There are tons of crouching tigers and hidden dragons (the actual old saying for ‘hidden masters’). If you are willing to look for them. I mean it’s easy now y’all have the internets to do it.