We all have our crosses to bear in life. We all face our own unique stresses, pressures and frustrations. Sometimes they are small enough that they can be muted when we step into the dojo and set about our training. On other occasions they creep out against our will, sometimes in startling dramatic fashion, but facing our demons is a good exercise for the martial artist and an important part of our mental development.
Demons Come in All Forms
Our demons, whether they are challenges in our jobs, our relationships, our bodies, our minds, etc, can lead to challenges in our training. Sometimes we have more trouble paying attention because we’re distracted by our demons. Other times, we have trouble getting our body to do what we want it to. We can feel more irritable losing patience with oursleves and others. On a really tough day, we can completely lose control of our emotions and break into tears when put under pressure physically or emotionally in our training, or even just from a kind gesture that opens our emotional flood gate. I’ve seen all of these happen in some form over the years. (more…)
So many students of the martial arts make earning their black belt a goal only to be told that black belt should not be an end goal because that’s when the real learning begins. Some people think that this is just the sort of thing instructors say to keep students after they reach this milestone. Others think it is a statement to keep students humble. While this reasoning may be true in some cases, the statement is still true in its most literal sense if the student is open to it.
Making a Spectacle of One’s Self
Recently, an old friend, colleague, instructor and room mate of mine, Jonathan Jamnik, came to Vancouver for a visit and trained in our stunt throwing class. Jon, with over 12 years experience, holding a 2nd Degree black belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu, has a well-deserved reputation for having awesome breakfalls, being able to fall out of pretty much anything without hurting himself, even on hard surfaces. (more…)
“Don’t mind anyone else, you don’t make mistakes.”
It was during an unexpected water break in the middle of my four hour plus grading for my brown belt six years ago that my first Sensei leaned in and whispered to me. He was one of a half dozen black belts assisting in the grading that day, and while the comment may seem odd, I knew to what he was referring.
About twenty minutes earlier, the grading panel had been yelling out the names of different chokes, and not entirely certain I had heard correctly, I began applying a choke. From the corner of my eye, I noticed everyone one else was doing a different choke. Assuming I must have simply heard wrong, I adjusted to perform the same choke as everyone else. Turns out everyone else was wrong.
This story came to mind the other night after I had begun a warm-up during class. I started off with the warning, “Listen carefully to the instructions,” and I proceeded to rattle off a set of exercises. (more…)