Tuesday, October 02, 2007

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The Ends of the Spectrum

I love spending time working in what I call ‘the ends of the spectrum’. Although this type of thinking can be applied to many aspects of life and living, here I shall talk about it in a BJJ context. The ends of this hypothetical ‘spectrum’ are two points that equate to the extremes. Light/dark, good/bad, civilized/wild … you get the picture.
When we are developing our BJJ skills it is useful to be aware of what both extremes offer when we are working at bringing new techniques into our repetoire. Keep in mind that neither is better or worse than the other - just different.
At one end of the spectrum, we try to ‘force’ the technique. That is we try to apply and implement it at all costs. We focus and drive toward the technique with full commitment. When the opponent puts his roadblocks in our way, we find ways to break them down and continually pursue the given technique. At this end of the spectrum, it’s all about ‘intent’.
At the other end of the spectrum, we look and see what happens when we try to implement the new technique. We see how the opponent reacts and we adjust and adapt our responses to capitalize on his reactions. This is the way we build and develop combinations. In one sense, this is closer to the true ‘Jiu’ Jitsu idea. We take the path of least resistance. At this end of the spectrum, it’s all about adaptation.
Both ends of the spectrum are equally important. One develops ‘intention’, the other ‘adaptability’.
Both types of mindsets have their places. Sometimes we want that mindset that says, ‘no matter what, I am achieving what I set out to do’; this single-mindedness has it’s advantages. Miyamoto Musashi used to call this the ‘Ox-neck’. And sometimes we want the mindset that says ‘keep all options open, be creative, find a solution that fits; this flexible type of mindset also has it’s advantages. Musashi called this the ‘Rat’s head’.
So the concept of Rat’s-head/Ox’s neck is a great way to think of both ends of the spectrum in a single clear image.
Ultimately, this is what we are looking for. We want the intention and sense of purpose whilst retaining the flexibility that an adaptive mindset offers.
Spend some time at both ends of the spectrum – they are places of extremes. I believe that on average, most people spend their lives in the places between. That place of balance is nice; it’s safe, it’s easy – but it ain’t where the fun is, and it ain’t where the learning is.
Best wishes,
JBW

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