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Ego and power in judo


There is something about judo that is at the same time, both un-intuitive and exquisitely sensible (once it is explained) - the concept of ju - The idea that by yielding before force you can overwhelm it - SAY WHAT?!
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You might think about it this way...
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It doesn't make too much sense to practice dealing with people that you already have the power to easily throw down, control, and submit.  If you can throw someone whenever you want to, why bother practicing throwing them?  You've already got it.
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That is why, when we are practicing hold-downs and uke starts bridging and pushing out of the hold, instead of holding tighter and trying harder to maintain control, we yield and go wherever uke is trying to make us go - even if it places us at a disadvantage.  Because we assume that there will come a day that we may grab someone that has sufficient power to force us out of that position - and when faced with overwhelming force, we'd better have some experience being a pliant receiver. 
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That is why, when we are practicing throws and tori makes a pretty good approximation of the throw (as we understand it), uke yields and falls.  Because we assume that one day someone will surprise us and whip us into the ground totally against our will, and when that happens, we would like to have a few thousand repetitions of skillfully receiving and dissipating that type of force.
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That is why, when we are trying a submission and the opponent (naturally) opposes it, we don't lean in and pile on more weight and effort to force it to work - we move to something else - somewhere that we can have an effect AND be unopposed. 
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There is something about our ego that makes us delight in being tori and doing, and steering, and forcing the future into the shape of our own imagining.  But it turns out that the more valuable skill is being able to bend the self and the ego to conform to the real shape of the future.
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When you possess the power to make the world work like you like, you have the power - we are practicing to learn how to deal with the times when we don't have the power.
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The real hard part is how to trick or beat or otherwise coerce the ego into submission.


Photo courtesy of Simmr

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Patrick Parker