Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We contribute to our own failure

The other day I was writing about the odd way perception works in connection to martial arts rank. This is just one tiny facet of a huge phenomenon. For some really interesting reading about perception in general and why we see (or don't see) things for what they are, check out this book written by a CIA brainiac.
This material has a lot to say about how you construct your martial arts system. For one thing, we have to recognize that we often contribute to our own failure. We often don't like to see things that way. We'd rather see a conflict as, "A bad man attacks poor, innocent me and I do ____________(fill in the blank) to stop him." But things really aren't that way.
Almost nobody ever sees themselves as the bad, evil, villain. The attacker is often acting in a rational, reasonable manner based on whatever is going on in his head at the time. Now, that doesn't mean that criminals and violent people are poor, misbegotten creatures who have the right to do what they are doing. People being attacked have rights and most often, attackers work from a twisted, evil motivation even if they can't see it. But it's just not as simple as "bad man attacks good man."
Often the energy that we put into the system is non-productive, counter-productive, or even down-right destructive. We think that we must do and strike and throw and break when often a better solution can be found with avoidance, evasion, redirection, and compassion. Check out this classic aiki story for an example. Of course, sometimes a well-timed palm to the chin can defibrilate someone out of an insane path of action more efficiently than avoidance.
Your martial arts system (how you organize your skills and strategies) has to take these phenomena into account and attempt to answer this problem of us contributing to our own failure. Aikido contains as part of the system many checks and balances which keep this phenomenon from impacting (pun intended) on tori's chance of success in an encounter.

1 comment:

  1. Well written! The set of tools we develop can begin to make the world into a nail and we the hammer I suppose, but I like what most Sensei's say about never using what we know, etc.


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