Cultivating Awareness

When I demonstrate a technique, I do want you to perform it the way I do. Last night we did wrestling, and explored some pinning movements from a couple of traditions. I try to show the technique clearly, and then break it down visually and verbally so that people can have the most understanding before they try it for themselves. What I can’t demonstrate is the feel of the technique. The integrity of the connection between my opponent and I. When I go around and check on everyone’s application, I see a common error repeated. The physical expression of the error differs from student to student, and sometimes that needs to be addressed, but usually fixing the common error does the job. I’ll look at the students trying to apply the technique, and I see that the crossing of the arm is at the wrong place, the wrist is at…

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Grinding and Forgetting

Some of my favourite moments in martial arts are when the whole class is pushed past the point of exhaustion. During last night’s class, I looked up during the wrestling drills, and saw over half the students flat on their backs, trying to get their wind back. They would catch their breath, and then go right back to the grind. After a while the grins are gone, but the determination is still there. At that point you forget things. All of your go-to methods are useless to you, because you’ve already used them on your partner and they’ve found solutions. You are too tired to try and surprise anyone with bursts of speed and cleverness, you haven’t got the gas to jink and fake anymore. In the grind, you are left with guts and willpower. You stop thinking about being the better wrestler, and start to think about surviving. If…

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The Cost of Doubt

Doubt costs repetitions. The time you spend thinking about how to do something, or what you have done wrong, or even if there is a better way to do something, is time you spend not doing something. Success in athletic endeavors can be correlated to volume. Working on handstands, the students with the best handstands, or most improving handstands, are the ones who do the most handstands. In the brief amount of time there is to perform the task in class, some students will do 20 or more handstands or handstand attempts. Some students will only do two or three. Over time, volume wins. The old saying about the water wearing away the rock is true, but it’s difficult to be the water. Doubt is a thing that holds us tight, and stops us from wearing away at our task. When a student is wondering about the correct way to…

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