Common sense

Indoor training spaces are warm. That's a bit of a privilege.

Struggling, as usual.

I have to continually remind myself that goals are a trap. To aim for something that is a success or measurable is to sabotage that thing.

When I was younger, every time I got a new toy, I'd pull it apart to see how it worked. I'd un-assemble, and re-assemble it, and repeat a few times until I understood it. And then I was done with the toy, bored. What I really enjoyed was the process of coming to understand a thing. My endorphin hits come in the "What is this? How does this work? What does this bit do? Can I move over here, and does it break now, or does it work but in a different way?" Those little knowledge points drive me.

Process always intrigues me. Building a martial arts school has been a gradual process of me starting with building towards goals. To date, I've completed about 4 complete, multi-year curriculums for historical fencing. 3 of those will never see the light of day, and the first fills me with regrets whenever I see the results.

Valkyrie was the first time I tried to think about building a sustainable process instead of a machine that spits out results. I didn't have the right language or understanding to know what I was doing, and the whole team at Valkyrie, especially to start, was struggling between the desire to do what we intuitively knew was better, and the market requirements of meeting what people expected.

It took us a lot of years to start to understand what we were trying to do, and a lot of iterations of curriculum versus process, before we finally put process first. We met and still meet, a lot of pushbacks from that. But one thing the pandemic has given us is the time and space to retrench our own wants. It's let us think about what we want our lives as martial arts teachers and martial artists to look like. And it's reminded us to not compromise on that idea at all.

Now that local restrictions are reducing...and honestly now that student vaccination rates can be expected to be 100%, and mask wearing is normalized, we can start to seriously look at rebuilding.

Or re-integrating. Perhaps that's a better word. We've had two years apart, and that builds a truer sense of what we want, from what we miss. It's also been two years of dreaming, two years of freedom from expectations.

Some of the coaches have really grown in this time, embracing and adapting to the technological requirements, and some of us have withdrawn to spend some time on the mountaintop.

The next step is build a process that removes the burden some of the coaches have been under, supports the individual desires of all coaches, and provides us with a series of habits that let us function as a real assembly, a real community.

Randy Packer

Randy Packer