Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mutual benefit with undesirables

Most folks in judo pay some lip service to Kano's two ideals  - as if they are mottoes that we are supposed to recite at the beginning of class and then never think about again.
NO!  Kano actually intended to create an ever-increasing group of people who made best use of their strength and power in order to help improve each other's lives and society.  This is documented.  I bet you'd be hard pressed to find a transcript of a lecture by Kano where he did not mention improving society or mutual benefit or efficient use of effort and resources.
This ideal is so much the foundation of judo that I've said it before and I'll say it again - Judo classes cannot function without all the participants buying into that ideal to a larger degree than just lip service.
Here's a particularly challenging example of applying the judo ideal...
What about when you have an undesirable partner or judo classmate?  Maybe he's a mat bully or a warrior wannabe, only out to learn to fight.  Maybe he's dangerously unpredictable in randori.  Or maybe he's lazy and wants to do 1-2 reps then sit on the side of the mat and chat. Or maybe he monopolizes your training time working at his pace on his material and you never get to work on your own stuff?  Or maybe you hate how his roughness infects you and makes you want to be rougher and rougher in a vicious circle.
Whatever it is, this fellow is a pain in the ass!  Every time you work with him he agitates you more and you do your best to write that guy off as an asshole and find some other partner to work with in class and hope that you can avoid the undesirable until he eventually quits.
Is this an application of maximum efficient use of power toward mutual benefit?  Obviously not - the undesirable partner is apparently not trying to help anyone but himself.  But are you using all of your powers to help this undesirable fellow improve himself?  Are you helping your other partners, who end up having to work with him?  And if you do succeed in ignoring him until he goes away, how are you going to help him improve himself then?
Here's another thing to think about - from a practical self-defense perspective, what are we in judo to learn?  We are in judo to learn to deal with unpleasant, chaotic, unpredictable, violent people by means of gentle (genteel) grace.  So, this undesirable fellow might just be your ideal partner
Sure, this is setting the bar high, and sure, you have to keep yourself and your partners as safe as you can, and it's not easy learning to deal safely and gently with violent people, but who ever got into judo to learn how to dominate only placid, compliant Milquetoast partners?
And here's a crazy idea - What if we got so good at applying these ideals to control unpleasant partners with grace and gentleness that we could reliably and safely view real bad guys on the street as undesirable partners that need help to change? 
  • I'm not claiming to be great at applying the judo ideal with undesirables, but I can tell you that the answer involves Kano's ideals of maximum efficient use of power toward mutual benefit.  
  • I can also suggest that this skill is related to the verbal aikido idea.
  • One place that I got a GREAT lesson on this is from Sensei Bob Rea's discussion on de-escalating your judo partners so that they remain in an optimal learning state-of-mind.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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Patrick Parker

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