We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.
“He doesn’t look like a killing machine. He looks like he should be in a boy band.”
Ninja Assassin is what all the Ninja movies of the 70s and 80s wished they could have been when they grew up.
The subject matter lends itself to a treatment which should somehow capture the mystery of magical powers such as invisibility combined with the ruthlessness of a culture of assassination, but most of the Ninja movies made in the West were usually low budget cheesy films full of people running around in broad daylight dressed all in black or even white (totally defeating the camouflage idea!).
While there have been impressive Japanese productions which displayed the potential for the subject (Shogun Assassin for example), the Ninja movies made in the States usually sucked.
Ninja Assassin was finally the Ninja movie we were all waiting for — it deserves attention from a wider fan base as it is a fun, violent, and beautifully made little action flick.
James McTeigue, who cut his teeth as the first assistant director for the Wachowskis on all the Matrix movies, and who stepped into his own on the pretty good V for Vendetta and the not so good (I hear) The Raven, really made his best movie so far with this under appreciated martial arts bloodbath.
Written by unknown Matthew Sand (story and screenplay) and substantially punched up by J. Michael Straczynski (Thor, Babylon 5, World War Z), Ninja Assassin is a great Saturday afternoon matinee movie, delivering a tragic love story, a substantial revenge motif, and solid toxic-family father and son confrontation.
Plus, of course, many hyper-violent fight scenes, and a decent amount of wit.
Rain, a Korean pop star, put in the hours in the gym to develop a Bruce Lee body and a creditable imitation of martial mastery, delivers star power and a certain dry wit.
Shô Kosugi also stars, who achieved some fame in various ultra-low-budget Golan Globus exploitation films in the 80s (which us older people remember as being in rotation on the early HBO) such as Ninja III: The Domination (in which he plays a dead Ninja who possesses a hot 80s aerobics instructor to become a Ninja with big hair and leg warmers).
The CGI effects really help here, to enable the actors to interact with flying knives, blades, and one particularly nasty mini-scythe on a chain that is the favorite weapon of the protagonist, as well as enabling the Ninjas to melt into and out of the shadows.
“Every good athlete can find the flow but it’s what you do with it that makes you great. If you consistently use that state to do the impossible, you get confident in your ability to do the impossible.”
This website is basically devoted to exploring the mental aspects of Wing Chun. This is really what we can accomplish on a website. Most of Wing Chun teaching requires in-person contact. The instructor shows you. They watch you try it. They correct over time. Then there is the feel of drills like Chi Sau. But Wing Chun, perhaps more than most fighting technologies, requires a firm grasp of the mental game to achieve competence, let alone excellence. While it is crucial to put in the hours doing the forms and drills, it is just as important to consistently use such mental tools as visualization and to organize and plan your training. All of these tactics taken together can bring us closer and closer to our goal, which to have a combat skill hardwired into our body. At its best, this skill expresses itself as doing the right thing at the right time in combat.
Over the years I’ve been training the significance of the mental game in sports has been gaining in appreciation. Sports psychology has gained respect and so have various other methods to study physical excellence. And it shows, on the fields and courts of our sports, and in the Olympics. Records are broken regularly.
Doing the right thing at the right time effortlessly and with the sort of lightening genius that the body can sometimes manifest (when we get out of the way with our slow, day to day mind) is described as flow, a term coined by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow, according to him, is when you are so “involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
If you’re lucky, you’ve experienced this state in your Wing Chun training. I have here and there, if only all-too briefly. Your skills are suddenly heightened and everything seems easy. Your body seems to do everything “of itself.” Your timing is perfect and effortless. Your body feels relaxed and you have endless reservoirs of energy. But the next time you train, it’s gone!
How do we learn to enter this state and stay there, at will? This is the subject of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler