Blinded by Goals and Improving the Quality of Practice.

I do not think I am alone in the goals I have. I am pretty sure I share very similar goals to a lot of people in the Melee community who want to improve. Goals like…

Rank #1 in the world. Rank #15 in the world. Rank #20 in the world. Ranked in San Diego. Place top 32 here, place top 32 there. Just win a local. Place Top 3 in a local. Get ranked in my region. Get ranked in my city. Win, win and win some more.

Okay, great. But how?


 

Only literally this week have I taken a look at the hows or whats of what it is I need to be doing to get to any of those goals, even the smaller ones like win a local, or even place top three in a local. And I’ve had those goals since mid 2015, but I have yet to achieve any. Kind of silly. I had never looked at the process that I was taking, or would tell myself I was taking, up until now. . I would kind of just turn on my Wii, play Melee by myself for an hour, watch a YouTube video of a set or two, and think that would be good enough. Sometimes I would do practice in a similar matter to what I want to be doing now, but not nearly enough or as focused as it will be in the future, which I will go into detail later on in this post.

Goals are great to have no doubt, and I do believe I am inspired by them, but I think I have been auto-piloting my improvement process or the process itself to get to the goals that I want to achieve. By just turning on the game and ‘playing’ it every now and then like I was doing for awhile, I’ll probably make no real progress toward any goal. I have been coming to a realization that I need to pay attention. Not that I need to get more serious and hard-core about the process itself and force myself to do one-thousand wave-dashes a day or analyze ten different sets in a week or stuff like that, but to actually realize what it is I need to work on to get me to where it is I want to be. The answers are basically right under my nose, and I am at the point where I can see my problems as clear as day, so what has been stopping me? Ironically, I think my big goals have.

I believe I’ve been so romantic about my goals, how cool it would be to be the best player in the world, or the best player in my city, always talking about it or day-dreaming about it that I have been too naive to actually take a look at what has been right under my nose this entire time: Specific aspects of my game that I need to practice and understand.

These are some goals related to what it is I believe I need to work on the most in my play:

  • Cut down on excess movement (My biggest most obvious problem).
  • Improve the quality of my practice.
  • Work on punish game.
  • Work on corner pressure.

(I realize that Melee is a big game and there are tons of things to work on and all that, I am just leaving it at those four things for the sake of this post).

For cutting down on excess movement, this one is most exciting since it is my most obvious one. I have had a few different peers all of varying skill levels tell me that this is my biggest thing that I need to work on. This will also be tied into corner pressure since apparently they are both related (I keep seeing myself wave-dash a bunch of times in a row when I have someone cornered, and if I work to understand positions better I want to see myself not spazz out on movement and get the job more simply).

Improving the quality of my practice will be my second biggest thing. This pretty much ties all of the concepts together. I have been very inspired recently by this awesome video:

I have been turning off my phone, laptop, and keeping the temperature in my room quite cool while I practice, making sure all of my focus is to what it is I would like to work on, usually tech skill that I feel that I am not that great in that I can for sure use in tournament. Visualizing what my ideal play would look like. How I want to be playing the game, instead of flailing around on the stage for an hour not really knowing why I am doing the inputs I am doing.

Then there is punish game. This is basically something I can practice through watching videos, solo work and friendlies. I feel I don’t need to get big into this since there are tons of resources out there to learn how to improve that. Corner pressure will be tied into cutting down on excess movement and actually learning positions/situations/focusing in a match and all that.

What is exciting to me about these goals,  is that they are actually practical things I can work on and see measurable progress and get real feedback on. They relieve a sort of pressure that I felt I was carrying by trying to become the best player in a certain amount of time. It felt like I was failing to achieve a goal (Win a local) every single Monday when I got home from a Last Stock Local, which was incredibly un-fun for me. These are things I can literally practice and see either progress being made or a lack of progress being made and actually understand why! Which is way better for me than to go “oh my god it is almost the end of the year how am I not rank #1 in the universe yet I am so driven to improve why god why???”…

Moving forward, I know that I can put in the hours. I have the drive, no doubt. Anyone can put in the hours. Realizing that it is more about the quality of the time I spend practicing has been pretty big for me. These realizations will probably not immediately propel me to the top of the game, but rather give me more clarity and satisfaction that I can measure daily.

 

Thank you for reading, keep competing.

Kopaka.

 

 

Too much preparation.

Hey guys! I want to share with you another experience I had at this years EVO. This is about how I thought I was doing my best to prepare myself for my morning pool matches, but it seemed that I was over prepping myself far beyond what would have allowed myself to play comfortably in the moment. This is definitely still an ongoing process for me, as I’m still learning with each and every tournament I attend. I’ve yet to come to a stern conclusion about what it is exactly that I should be doing at every single tournament to feel the most mentally sharp, yet relaxed. No matter which tournament I attend, the game is always the same. It is always going to be Melee, but yet at each tournament, competing always feels different, even though I know that the game is always going to be the same game that I practice back home.

I was standing behind my pools station at noon sharp, day one of Evo. On my walk from our room in the Luxor to the Mandalay Bay, I had been listening to the song that I decided I would listen to if I had to face Chillindude in bracket. I drank a medium cup of coffee during breakfast, and I was feeling pretty pumped up and ready to get into my matches. As I was standing behind my pool station, a friend of mine from San Diego, (I’ll call him K.K), came up to me and we spoke for a few minutes before my pool started. He pointed out that I did seem very frantic. This was a shock to me. Apparently, from the outside, I must have looked very nervous, or like I was on cocaine or something, otherwise most of these points that he made to me probably would never have come up in the first place. I don’t remember the exact specifics of the conversation but we came to the conclusion that I was definitely on the upper side of the nervous scale. What the heck? I thought I was doing everything I could do to turn the nervousness into excitement to compete! I thought it was a bit ironic that I had been reading much on sports psychology, human performance, meditations, etc, and yet here I was about to compete, experiencing the feelings that I had been reading up on how to combat, though as if I had forgotten everything I read about up until this point.

I was definitely high. Not on any drug, (well, besides Caffeine) but high on expectations. I knew my best performances and my worst performances, how I could either play to my highest potential or blow it completely. The conversation I had with K.K kind of brought me back to reality. It brought me back to Planet Earth in a way. I remember the phrase “You know how to play the game” and the word “Breathe” being mentioned somewhere in the conversation. This is the exact kind of pregame advice I believe is the most effective, at least for me. These words had a much more powerful effect to me to get my head-space at the right level to compete comfortably. It wasn’t too over-hype, nothing like “Dude you’re actually so amazing wow you’ve beaten so and so before dude oh my god!!!!!11!!1!” to get me even more frantic than I was. It was real, honest, and practical. (Plus I knew he knew what he was talking about since he used to compete himself :P). A point I made to him was that in competing, and in many things in life in general, finding the middle-ground of the scale is always the most difficult thing. You can be on the highest side of the scale, feel completely nervous or excited to compete, or completely unmotivated and demoralized by your upcoming matches (or previous matches) and be on the bottom side of the scale. This sort of thing is why I believe we have to practice with purpose, trust in the practice itself come tournament day, and expect curve-balls and adaptations you need to make that you’ve never faced before while under pressure.

They say experience is the best teacher after all, and there is quite a big difference between reading about something, and actually experiencing it yourself, in your own body and learning how you naturally respond to it for real. Every single experience is going to be different. There’s no “How to cope with tournament nerves right after you break up with your girlfriend” article anywhere, at least to my knowledge. Life is always there, and we will always be humans playing the game. We can work to understand the game on a deeper level, improve to the best that we can to better our chance of winning, but honing in your focus to what is most important when you’re at a major tournament and internal and external expectations could be on the line is a completely different game.

When we invest time into something to achieve an outcome we prefer, the game changes. Winning is always desired, but we have to find a way to accept losing as an outcome and put the excitement to compete far beyond the fear of an outcome we do not prefer. It is difficult. I believe it can be done, and it is something I would like to keep practicing for as long as I have a desire to play the game.

 

Thank you for reading, keep competing.

Kopaka.



989a02cc13f76d2346a4b64c4b0de2e4--stop-comparing-flower-quotes

On my set with Chillindude829

Hey guys! I’d like to share with you a little bit of the overall experience of my set with Chillindude from Evo 2017, some context to my Smash history, and what I’d like to do moving forward.  The support I’ve gotten has been wild, and I’d like to share my experience as a hopes of it being encouragement to someone out there who is aiming to do great things with this game. This will not exactly be about the set itself so much, or how Chillin and I played (or how I went for wayyy too many fthrow -> fsmashes) or whatever, but rather how the whole experience felt.

This was my third Evo, and it was the one where I felt the most internal pressure because it was the first one that I had attended since I began to take training seriously, both in physical skills and mental focus. This Evo felt completely different than the previous two. During the first Evo I attended, Evo 2015, I was very nooby. People at that tournament would tell me how I have nice movement, but I would be doing really nooby things in game and I had such a weak understanding of the game itself during this time. Evo 2016 was a little different. Around this time I had a much more practiced mental-game but I still vastly lacked in-game skill and understanding. I was also having crazy trouble sleeping at night and was depressed around the time of this tournament, and there were many times where I felt like quitting during that year. The weeks going into Evo 2017 were spent working my job, training in-game solo and with partners, battling lapses of tournament-focus, and picking up a habit of meditating at home. Ultimately though, I had decided that I wanted to compete. Not just compete at Evo, but to just compete. I wanted to improve, and compete, and perform on the big stage. Making those decisions alone sort of smoothed out a path for everything to kind of just flow. For me to be at ease with the training and focus that is required to perform, and swallow the fact that outcomes that I do not prefer may sometimes just happen no matter how much I train.

I woke up the morning of day one, and started practicing with a local Vegas player we were rooming with. I was not exactly feeling ready to compete after the short practice session, nor was I happy with my play during practice at all. I knew I had to swallow it though, and focus on what was to come. They say friendlies do not really matter,  but when you’ve come all this way, and spend a lot of money going to a tournament with the hopes of performing well and have trained a lot for it, you kind of want any interaction you have with the game to be meaningful, right? It is “The big one” after all (Despite a drop in attendance this year).

I went downstairs, ate the soggiest oatmeal I had ever eaten, put my headphones in and began the trek to the Mandalay Bay from the Luxor. Eventually I got myself to where my pool was being held at noon. Right around when the pool matches were being called, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around, and this group of about five or six friends from high-school were there as spectators of the event itself. This was huge for me! I tried to hold back tears, but to no avail. I had ran into a few of them at Evo 2016, but I completely forgot that they like going to this event so it was a huge surprise for me. I had not seen a few of them in about four years, which made mentally preparing for my matches even more difficult, since seeing all of them had begun to make me cry. I hugged all of them and did my best not to become more of an emotional wreck. I then remember just sitting on a chair in front of a free setup, completely unaware of the fact that I had a setup right in front of me to warm-up on and instead sat there trying to dry the tears from my face while talking to my friend Erin.

Her and I talked for a bit, which was quite relaxing and got me a bit more at ease and focused. Thanks Erin! My match was finally called after I got a measly twenty seconds of warm-up time (Thanks, emotions). I had to play a Falco player for my round one, and the winner of this set had to play Chillindude in the next round. The set began, and the Falco player took the first stock off of me soon after the set started. Not a position I had never been in before though, and while it was quite awkward, I won the first game. During the second game I felt a little bit better, and ended up winning the set 2-0. Then a TO came up to me, and told me I had to play Chillindude on stream, on the big stage. I actually popped off and shouted “Fuck yeah!” when I had heard this. Not because I had just won, but because I was just told that I get to play Chillindude on the big stage. I began walking with the TO to the stage, and the TO handed me a piece of paper on which I had to write my name, my tag, what region I am from, a fun fact about me, and my favorite commentator. Besides the obvious answers, I wrote down Wife as my favorite commentator, and “I love playing on the big stage” as my fun fact. (Please go check out Wife’s Blog as it’s amazing!)

I sat down in front of the stage, and waited for the set Amsa was playing to finish. The amplified game sounds booming through the area gave me goosebumps. As I sat there and as I walked on stage, I felt no fear of under-performing, making mistakes, losing or letting anyone down. I just remember being very “there”. Being very present. Maybe I was a little bit afraid, I certainly was right after I had woken up, but once I got on stage, none of that stuff seemed to weigh on me as heavily. I felt I had to just perform. Giving it my all? Maybe. I do not remember feeling like I was over-exerting, or over-performing or pressing any button on my controller really hard or popping off when it felt unnatural. I was just focused on the game, and it was the most exhilarating time I have ever had while playing Melee, and an experience that has given training a much more clear definition.

The set finished with Chillindude winning. I turned to him, gave him a fist-bump, and stood up to unplug my controller. When I stood up, I did have the “Well, dang. I lost. That sucks.” feeling, but at the same time, I felt pretty awesome actually. I felt I had overcome a huge fear, a real fear of how many things could go wrong. A fear of losing focus or a fear of getting frustrated or choking. The support I was given from my friends and smashers after the set was just such an incredible thing for me.  Ka-Master walked up on stage and just as I was about to finish packing my controller, he hugged me and gave me some really awesome short words of encouragement to keep going. That was amazing and meant a tremendous amount to me. I walked down the stairs and all of my friends were there to tell me about the match. As I was walking back to my pool, this little kid came up to me and told me how I was so close, then his dad showed up and he told me the same thing. A little kid and his dad, whom I had never met before, were telling me about the set. Pretty crazy. Then sometime during the day, I can’t remember when exactly, two or three people I had never met before in my life came up to me to tell me about it too. This was so crazy to me. It has been such a crazy experience to have been playing this game competitively since August 2013, suck for two years, decide that I really want to improve around mid 2015, feel like giving up/go through depression while I wanted to improve through most of 2016/early 2017, and then have this set on the big stage at Evo, and have complete strangers tell me that they’re fans. Once you get momentum, it is hard to let go of it when you finally get to experience the outcome you have only dreamed of so many times in your head before, for years. It has changed how I perceive locals, and changed why I practice in the first place. Of course I would have liked to come out on the winning side, but to come out on the side of the bracket you’d prefer to come out on, you have to explore a side of yourself you never thought was there before.

I certainly was the underdog here, and moving forward, I would like to practice how to handle any fear of not living up to this performance (especially at locals), and any sort of new internal pressure I have not faced before that might come up after a performance like this, through meditation. I am human after all, and I want to better understand how I can accept the human part of the game and how to cope with the anxiety or burden not meeting internal and external expectations, both good ones and bad ones. Overall, I want to be satisfied, and make the most out of my opportunities with this awesome game.

 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading.

 

— Kopaka


 

I would also like to play my opponents when they are playing their best, that way if I win, it feels way more amazing. (I’m sure Chillindude can play much better than he did during our set and it would be very exciting to get to play him again when he does).

This is the song I was listening to during the set:

 

“Reflections” on The Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, why Inner Game of Tennis is probably more worth your time, and why eventually we must stop studying, and start fighting.

 

I’m sure you’ve read phrases like this before, thousands of times probably. “I’ve always loved Xing, ever since I was a child”. Well, I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a child. However back when I was a child, I was not into reading books on competitive mentality, the art of learning (which I read about in a book called “The Art of Learning”), sports psychology, or the like. I was into Captain Underpants, you know. Stupid stuff. (Still am, actually). My interests these days are into such subjects, which I find quite ironic since I grew up under the class of “Not into sports at all”, yet here I am subconsciously nagging at the fact that I need another book to read, most likely falling under the subject of sports mentality.

So why is it that I, some nerd who plays a 15 year old Nintendo Gamecube game competitively, would ever want to start reading a book by Martial Arts genius, Bruce Lee? Well, I started to take competitive Melee a bit more seriously around the beginning of 2015. Around this time, I did find myself “stuck” as far as tournament mentality or improvement goes. This is why I picked up The Inner Game, as it seemed like the perfect antidote for my predicament. I wanted answers. I was seeking. The way my mind works is that I often make absurd connections. I hear something, I read something, and I instantly feed it back or connect the phrase or question or statement into my main passion (Which is Melee. Or maybe one day it will be Tennis. Who knows).  Why I do this, I have no idea. It’s probably much more beneficial to think about the game using strictly game terms, like “When Fox is doing this, try not to do that” instead of “The mind must be wide open to function freely in thought. A limited mind cannot think freely.” (Bruce) It’s definitely caught me in awkward situations where I wanted to explain a question or an answer to someone about Melee and I had to try extra hard not to sound too overbearingly philosophical on the matter. Simplicity can be a very powerful tool, which is one of the most important things I’ve learned from the book, along with my studies of the Melee in general.

So, lets get into how I came about discovering the book. I read a mention of the book from a Smashboards post from a particular top level Falco/Marth main in regards to a question someone had asked this particular Falco/Marth main about books. This particular player of the Bird and Sword Guy has many times recommended Inner Game and Art of Learning to many people before (which is how I learned of those books), but this was the first mention of the book from him that I had seen, or any mention of this book from anyone in the Smash community ever. It seemed interesting to me because I had never seen it mentioned before, unlike Inner Game. The thing about Inner Game, is that it’s mentioned and discussed to great amounts in the Smash community as being this holy savior textbook of mentality-changing “This will change your tournament life forever and ever”. Well, it pretty much is just that in my opinion. Inner Game is a fantastic book that any Melee player of any skill level should pick up, as it personally gave me new major insights to what can go on in the brain during training, and more importantly, performance under pressures. It’s a fantastic book, and is very well worth your time if you think you have that “stuck-in-a-rut” feeling with improvement in Melee.

 

Head


The differences between Inner Game, and Jeet Kune Do.

So we get that Inner Game can be a very helpful book if you take it seriously, right? We do? Cool. Great. Tao of Jeet Kune do is the complete opposite. I do not believe it is a textbook, a “go-to” book that you can open up and go “Ohhh yeah, okay, that totally makes sense! That’s what I was doing wrong!” The book is not really like that at all. You get these moments, sometimes after a period of some thinking, and sometimes instantly, that go more like, “Oh, that makes sense. That makes sense too”. However, the book rarely provides moments of “That’s how I should be doing it! Exactly like it says in the book!” The book is not a how-to, nor is it filled with suggestions or evidence of any of the material being something that practitioners can cite as being “tools” that have helped them immensely in their art of choice. The opposite is Inner Game. Inner Game is filled to the brim of moments like that for the interested reader.  Jeet Kune Do teaches you nothing. Inner Game teaches you everything. Inner Game has “Self 1 and Self 2”. Jeet Kune Do makes you think in a different way than how Inner Game makes you think. Inner Game shows you a practical way. A thing that you and I can apply immediately. Jeet Kune Do makes you figure things out for yourself. Jeet Kune Do is all about you. Not a “technique” that Inner Game has. Both are very important books, for very different (Though maybe similar) reasons.

Jeet Kune Do

I’m not here to review the book. I’m not here to actually “reflect” on the book, even though that’s the title of this post. I simply recommend the book to those that want to be challenged, not be taught something.

Jeet Kune Do is not like Melee. Melee is not like Jeet Kune Do.

Though there were many times throughout the book where I found myself going “A-ha!” after reading passages like “A golden rule is to never use more complex movements than are necessary to achieve the desired result“, I wanted to be careful to not decide that my comparisons to Melee meant that Melee was like Jeet Kune Do. Melee just happens to be a fighting game, so it was very easy and fun to make comparisons to Melee. I could see myself making such comparisons to Tennis or Golf even, if that was my art.  Let me just rant for a moment…As much as I love the book, and want to see more people reading it some day, I really would hate to start hearing things like “Oh wow, Melee is like Jeet Kune Do!” Much in the way that players like to say Melee is like Jazz. Or Melee is like this, or Melee is like that. Analogies like that are great and definitely fun to come up with if it actually makes sense, but Jeet Kune Do explores subjects that do not pertain to only things that can be applied to playing Melee well. Topics like Zen. Topics like Art. Expression. Expressing. Knowledge and knowing. Moving, never stopping. Wanting more. Deeper, deeper, yet deeper still, and then returning to where we began, and starting over.

Why I loved reading it.

I’ve wanted to find out where Melee is in my life for sometime. What Melee was for me. What I’m doing this all for. What my goals mean to me. What’s the point. The purpose, why? Is it an outlet, a ventilation, a prescription, a therapy, a journey, a goal, a disease? A thing beyond my reach yet within my grasp yet being pulled farther and farther away and drawn closer and closer to me with each thing that I learn and thing that I forget and thing that I return to time and time again? I would ask myself questions like “Why am I plagued with such difficulties in tournament performance and how do I get rid of them? How can I be free?”

While Inner Game was a fantastic read no doubt, and I praise the book highly, I still found myself often unsatisfied with many tournament performances, training sessions, and overall confidence in the foundation of my game. This was very confusing, as I thought that I had all the answers I could ever want from having read Inner Game, and proving to myself that when applied, the pressure of wanting to perform well and wanting to practice well, and being able to process the different aspects of my game that could use refinement, eased up a bit. Which it certainly did at times, but yet I would still have those times where I despised everything about practice, process, and performance. (The three Peas, as I like to call them. Practice, processing the practice, and performance in a tournament). I very much did feel like I had some sort of disease that I desired to get rid of, which word for word will be what this first quote of the three I’m about to present to you, describes. These three quotes I present to you, are the ones that had the most booming effect on me. I’ll break them down and go over my interpretation of them and what I believe it means to my art.

Quote number one:

The six diseases:

  1. The desire for victory
  2. The desire to resort to technical cunning.
  3. The desire to display all that has been learned.
  4. The desire to awe the enemy.
  5. The desire to play the passive role.
  6. The desire to get rid of whatever disease one is affected by.”

This passage right here, this was a very profound moment for me. Disease number six was the one that was the most important to me in the list, though I related to the other five strongly. As this piece is personal, and as I’m still competing at the time of writing, I’m not quite sure what tense to write this as. Past tense or present tense, because I could very well still feel that there is some disease I wish to be rid of that resides in my mind that effects my performance in and out of tournament! Passages like this were really a starting point for me. It led me to “question-answers” that I brought on to myself. This was no “A-ha! That’s how I should do it!” moment. Which is exactly why reading such a thing is still profound to me right this very second. This was a challenging moment for me. Moments like this are not exactly found in The Inner Game. This quote is an essential example of the challenges this book has available to the reader, if they so choose to pick it up. It was challenging and difficult to swallow for me because it made sense, but still seems very difficult to “apply”. The paradox is that there could be nothing to apply at all in the first place, and a quote ahead reads “To desire not to desire is also an attachment”. I read that statement, and it become all the more confusing, and really made me rethink how I’ve been going along my journey in competitive Melee. Had I really been wasting all of this time wanting to be rid of a disease? Where did the disease even come from? What brought it on? Why do I label it as such a thing that brings on such hindering feelings? Why is “it” a thing in the first place? Can I make “it” not exist? If I can make “it” exist, can I make it not exist? Looking back on the past two years since I began competing seriously, nothing has really been holding me back except for lack of experience, and lack of game knowledge on many aspects.

Every single tournament that I have been attending, every single bracket match that I have been playing, every single loss and every single win, up to this point, and possibly in the future if I do not change, has been because I have been wanting to prove myself that I can overcome this disease I brought upon myself, instead of wanting to play my tournament matches, walking away from them, thinking to myself “Well, my DI was not exactly on point in a few situations in neutral where if I had done the correct DI, I would not have been hit for such high percentage and I could have escaped their combo. I dropped a game because my edge guards were a bit sloppy and I got way too lazy in the last minute of the match, but at least I composed myself and brought it together during game three. He had a solid counter-pick though. I’ll remember this for next time”. What it has been, is much more chaotic, less defined, less matter of fact, less thoughts that I can productively take away from and think about and apply for the next time. Now, I understand that it will never always be like the first example of how I want to think all of the time. There will definitely be times where emotions cloud judgement of what really went on in a tournament set, especially right after the tournament set is finished.  The point is, I really do believe that I’ve been plaguing myself, for no real reason exactly, and this first quote is still a challenge to swallow weeks after having read it.

 

Quote number two:

The knowledge and skill you have achieved are meant to be “forgotten” so that you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction. Learning is important but do not become its slave. Above all, do not harbor anything external and superfluous-the mind is primary. Any technique, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease when the mind is obsessed with it”.

The knowledge and skill you have achieved are meant to be “forgotten”…”

This is not something I would have had an easy time digesting had I read it two or three years ago as I was starting out in competitive Melee. I easily understand and completely agree with this quote because I spent a very long time in the most frustrating, confusing, and muddy state in my practice of Melee during my initial years of training and study. Things simply just make much more sense to me now than they ever did back then, and when I do not understand something, it is not such a tremendously difficult task to comprehend why, how, when, and where that something that I do not understand would work, and would not work. I spent the vast majority of my training sessions, learning. Writing. Watching. Digesting and regurgitating thoughts and ideas and drilling deep into my brain what I must not do, how things really are, what moves really do. My perception of the game in front of me completely changed in the end, after much painful confusion.

We must learn to forget. We learn, to forget. When the stakes are up, when the pressure is on, when you are fighting, you must fight. I am still romantic about the learning process of course I have a tremendous amount more to learn and practice in the game, but the hilarious paradox that I’ve come to, one that’s given me much confidence, is that it is in-fact okay at times to put the pen down and fight! During the end of these difficult years, I was definitely feeling a “pulled apart” feeling. One side of me craved knowledge. The other side of me craved adaptability. I wanted to fight, while wanting to learn. I wanted to win, while learning how to lose. I never felt centered. I never felt whole. Again, I find no conclusion to draw here, as I believe I’m just getting started. This quote has given me tremendous clarity and self-awareness, and for that I am very thankful for it ever being written.

 

Any technique, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease when the mind is obsessed with it” The next part of this quote makes me think of tunnel-visioning in a match. Which is narrowing your focus to a select few amount of options, and solely looking for just those options the entire time in play. A quick example would be a Falco player only ever looking to Short Hop Fast Fall Laser -> Wavedash back in neutral. While in a vacuum that sequence could be very beneficial, only doing that sequence could possibly end up hurting the player in the end against an adaptive opponent, or if they are not being a bit more mindful of the nuances of the scenario at hand. Being adaptive, being active, always being present, is something I believe is one of the main takeaways from Jeet Kune Do. Though I did say that Jeet Kune Do is not like Melee, and vice versa, in Melee, I believe we must never be so romantic over a move or sequence of moves no matter how great they may seem. In Melee, there really are no fantastic, amazing moves that rack up tons of damage or establish a very strong sense of stage control right off the bat. Even moves like Peach’s Down-Smash. In a vacuum, or on paper, we as players understand how strong these moves definitely can be, but the over-reliant user is hurt in the end. Being always present and ever-adapting is something that I want to say is the single most powerful skill one could have when competing in Melee. Our greatest players are the most flexible, the most fluid, and the ones that everyone watches and says to themselves “Wow, that was so smart. That makes so much sense”. (Mostly. Maybe not for Mango).

 

Quote number three:

 “To desire” is an attachment. “To desire not to desire” is also an attachment.”

This one I believe kind of ties into the previous two quotes as a whole. This one was pretty big for me. My interpretation of this is that the desire itself is the disease. Well, that’s actually literally what it says is it not? To desire to be freed of some sort of mental block we think we have when it comes to performance, that desire is the disease itself. It’s a weird contradiction it seems. When we are plagued by a mental disease that we must overcome to perform better, some of us may turn to a book called Inner Game of Tennis. But…the desire itself…is the disease? Strange.


The answer to all of those questions I had before, then? Well, if I am to make an analogy to Melee, one that I would hope makes a lot of sense, then Melee is Art to me. Who you are as a human being, what it is you want to express, comes out in Art. No matter the form. No matter the game. Your passion, intensity, personality, dullness, passionate attributes, extroversion and introversion, who you are and your essence and qualities and smarts and stupids, all come out in what we call art. Art does not have to be painting, or writing, or reading. Art is neither wrong nor right. Art is not yes or no. Art can be competition. Art can be martial. Art can be anger, Art can be sadness, Art can be dullness and Art can be boring. All that matters is that it is what it is, nothing more, nothing less, nothing special and nothing dull.

Though given all of this, there is correct and incorrect in Melee. Much like how I think in Art there are certain colors you can’t really put together well. You know like how sometimes Brown and Purple do not really mix well together. I’m not saying do whatever the fuck you want in Melee because it’s Art, because Tao of Jeet Kune do is the “formless form”. Quite the contrary. Something important that I learned about Melee, is “Just because you can, does not mean you should”. You should not be recklessly jumping into your opponent and swinging like an absolute madman. Nor should you always be standing in place trying to trick your opponent into doing things all the time. No one way works all the time forever.

Ending thoughts.

I have no conclusion to draw from all of this. It is all a process. It’s happening every single day and changing every single minute I spend living. There is no conclusion to draw. Jeet Kune Do is just a great way to begin to challenge my own thinking, make new absurd connections to my art form, as I have been doing since the beginning.

 

Happy Cycling,

Paul LeCrone.

 


Soundtrack

 

If The Tao of Jeet Kune Do interests you, the link to purchase it on Amazon is here! —

 

And the Inner Game of Tennis can be purchased here:


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