Holding your horse


Rainbow-colored bruises, sprained fingers, broken noses, and sore muscles are only one side of Kung Fu. Even more striking are the precious life lessons it teaches me. I’m experiencing it on deep emotional levels, and it has brought upon me many tears, fear, comfort, endless joy ... and poetry. 

There’s a stance in Kung Fu, which is the most basic, yet most important one. From it all power and strength is drawn. It’s called the horse, and it takes immense effort and mental strength to stay in it. We practice it low, while balancing a sword on one leg, in order to get the angle right. We stay like this for one, two, three minutes, or until we fall down. No, you don’t stand up, because that means you’re giving up.

In your mind, not your body. If you’re able to push yourself up to stand, you also have strength left to hold the horse. If you really are out of strength, then you plop to the ground.

Standing up from the horse is failure. Falling down is something to be proud of.

I’m aware the moment the lever in my mind switches and gives way to doubt. It whispers to me 100 reasons to stand up. As soon as the thought of surrender creeps in, the whole body weakens. You must evade the thought of giving up. You can pray, you can make plans for the afternoon, you can recite a song in the stance, but never allow the thought of defeat to gain power.

I kept standing up, week after week, until my teacher said to me: “You’re not gonna give up today. Don’t say you’ll try, say you’ll do it.” And, to my amazement, I did.

Because it’s all in the mind.

This transfers to life, and it helps.

Now, in difficult times that demand lots of patience, I say that “I’m holding my horse”. Hold it, wait, persevere. It’s the same thing. Holding your horse means consciously enduring a situation, or a time of your life that’s uncomfortable, but you’ll get strengthened by it.

So, the next time you’re facing challenges, remember that you’re just holding your horse for a while. We all have to at times. But don’t say you’ll try, say you’ll do it. Don’t let the wrong thoughts weaken your strength. And keep breathing.

Did you enjoy my Kung Fu story? Please leave your comment below.

With much love,