Most everyone who takes up kumdo for the first time will talk about his or her body not listening to his or her head. This is probably because the body is unfamiliar with the new stances and movements which require the use of muscles not used usually. So when teaching, I say, “That happens because you are not the master of your body.” To this, the students reply, “Obviously I am the master of my body, but if I am truly the master, how come my body is not listening to me?” I answer in turn, “That is why we train: so that our bodies will listen to our minds and move the way we want them to.”
The mind wishes the body to move a certain way, but the body doesn’t listen. But through training, the body starts to obey the mind, and the gap between the mind and body begins to narrow. Thus as time passes, we begin to think that we are truly the master of our bodies. But strange enough, once we think that we are truly the master of our bodies, we realize that the mind is what we really want to control but cannot. We realize we lose our sense of balance, we are easily surprised or afraid, we hesitate, we question and so on.
So we feel the need to control the mind, that is, how we think. And not surprisingly, all the training and practice that took place to bring the body under control comes in very handy as the same logic can be applied when trying to control the mind. People sometimes deceive us, but our bodies never lie: when we are hit, we hurt; when we do not eat, we are hungry; when we sweat, we feel refreshed afterwards. Thus, training our bodies is a straight forward process. Training of the mind could be slightly trickier. This is why training of the body precedes training of the mind. But the former serves as a practice run for the latter. And we must believe that the training of the mind is possible, because I believe it is.
So what does it mean to be able to train our bodies to listen to our minds and eventually train our minds to go where we want it to? This means one becomes the true master of one’s mind and body. Being the master of one’s mind will mean not losing one’s balance (or being able to quickly find it again after it has been lost), overcoming one’s fears, being more bold and decisive and so forth. If one is able to control one’s thoughts, one will be able purge the negative and unnecessary and replace them with the positive and productive.
Only when we can truly control our thoughts like we control our bodies, can we truly become the masters of our destiny. We will be happy not because there is something to be happy about but rather because we have made a conscious decision to be happy. We will be happy simply because we chose to be.