Dan Couzens Self Development

BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS KICK AT CLIFF EDGE TO SUNSETWhat would happen if you pitted the greatest Will against the greatest technical skill? A stalemate? A clear victory for Skill, or a clear victory for Will? Would one contender just edge it?

Will & Skill are two very different aspects of martial arts; if you can combine the two then you have a warrior, someone who doesn’t know how to quit and also possesses the intelligence and understanding to be a virtuoso in his/her discipline.

“FALL 7 TIMES GET UP 8” Japanese proverb

There is a great phrase in sport, which says, ‘you have to keep you head in the freezer and your heart in the oven’. For me, this points to a profound aspect of human nature. It points to the possibility that there exist levels of our self that need to be accessed and mastered in order to reach our potential.


I think of skill as a surface based practice. You learn the technique and repeat it until the maps are well drawn and well known and eventually you can execute this without thinking, it becomes like a tool at your disposal.

Will is harder to train, the old Japanese proverb “fall 7 times get up 8” sums Will up perfectly. The Will is the force of nature, the skill is the ability to organise this force and apply it accurately to the laws of nature. Skill is about the mechanics. Will is about the desire.

So when your martial arts instructor pushes you and asks you for more and your first thought is ‘I can’t’, consider the teachers position. What are they trying to train? They are trying to get you to tap into that profound and invisible force that they see in you and perhaps in this particular hypothetical moment you are not acquainted with and therefor not tapping into it.

Training the Will is a hugely challenging and difficult thing to do. It takes time, patience and timing to get it right, the teacher must have skill, however, the best way to teach Will is to be someone who posses Will and practices making it stronger.

My favourite parts of films are often the training montages. I know they are often cliched but they more often than not resonate with me. To see someone pushing their limits, focused on the goal, willing to give of themselves everything to get there. This is the way of the warrior.

Dan Couzens