Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seeing what I "don't see"

These past months I have been preparing, and preparing for my next rank level. To be honest, I consistently apply myself at striving for more no matter where I am in the rank ladder, but there seems to be an added "spice" when you know that you are facing a belt test in the future.

As I trained, I remembered a very poignant statement given to me by one of my dearest Internet Sensei friends. He told me "Do not only look at what your Sensei is doing, but pay attention to what he/she ISN'T doing." Now, when my friend had said this to me, I was lost in confusion as to what he was talking about, but now, I'm becoming aware of the little "give away" motions which I'm doing that are not existent in the movements of an accomplished Martial artist. For lack of words to explain this concept, there seems to be a very accurate release of energy in an experienced Sensei. They do not waste their time/body movement/emotion. Everything is used well, and there are no warnings. They almost look like they aren't doing anything when they move. There is a relaxed fluidity in the movement.

Here is a video of two amazing Martial Artists of Kyokushin Karate from the 3rd World Tournament 1983 which shows these relaxed, yet powerful sudden movements. Shihan Andy Hug Vs Shokei Akiyoshi Matsui.

I need to look, and learn what my Sensei is NOT doing.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Our society's need for gossip

I've just been thinking about psychology, and Martial Arts lately, and I noticed something really interesting.

People attack other people more with our words than with our fists. We do not need to look far for evidence of this. The recent negative election commercials that have been flaunted in our faces for weeks have revealed this tendency in a very loud way.

Everyday, people wage a war of words. We attack others when they are not around to defend themselves. At times, people will spread nasty gossip about others ruining lives, and careers. In fact, many comedians have made a lot of money with this type of comedy. We see people attack others with angry words to their faces, especially during rush hours. It sometimes seems like people will verbally attack others whether there is a response and reaction, or not. The victim's personal response isn't as important as the actual act of expressing the negative words.

If we, as Martial Artists, work towards using self-control in our physical aggressive tendencies, then it would only make sense that we would also look towards the same kind of verbal control.

“From the moment a child begins to speak, he is taught to respect the word; he is taught how to use the word and how not to use it. The word is all-powerful, because it can build a man up, but it can also tear him down. That’s how powerful it is. So a child is taught to use words tenderly and never against anyone; a child is told never to take anyone’s name or reputation in vain.”
Henry Old Coyote, Crow Tribe Author,excerpt from Respect for Life

But why do we attack others with our words? What are we protecting ourselves from? Or what benefit do we see coming from this activity? I can tell you why I would strike someone with my fists, or feet, but why would someone feel it necessary to attack another person verbally?

"Psychologist Frank McAndrew, a professor at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, who has published more than two dozen articles in scientific journals and is author of the book "Environmental Psychology," says "We can be moralistic about it and say only small people gossip, or people with nothing better to do. But I just think it's wired into us."

McAndrew believes that people used gossip in early civilizations to position themselves for higher status. He says “how successful you were at attracting mates and reproducing, depended, to a great extent, on your social skills and knowing what other people were up to.”"

I am starting to believe that a person feels an imagined power, and in more control of their environment when they verbally can express themselves in a negative manner. Similar to the fable of the fox and the grapes, the fox stated that the "grapes were sour anyway" when he wasn't able to reach, and eat them.

Is there a way to de-escalate, and curb this aggressive verbal behavior in others? Now.. that is an area in which I would like to research farther.