Saturday, October 05, 2013

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The Precessional Effects of Training ...

As far as the precessional effects of martial arts practise are concerned, a typical story may unfold like this: Someone starts out wanting to learn self defence; they strive to develop their kicking, striking, grappling, etc; but in doing so, they make new friends, improve their physical fitness, increase their levels of confidence. Their newly acquired confidence gets them better grades in school or lands them a promotion at work; their lives are set on a track better geared toward success. Their new paradigm of what being ‘fit’ means, may also leak into other aspects of their lives: diet, mental outlook, financial fitness, etc. All of these things in turn, will more than likely add years to their lifespan; and not only years, but quality years! They may never need to even use their ‘self-defence’ skills but their martial arts training has made a profound and positive impact on how their life unfolds. 
I have been asked countless times ... why I adhere to the rigorous seminars schedule that I keep. Well, although I do have some expertise in what I do, what I really 'own' is an ability to teach others what I know; and this keeps me afloat as a professional martial arts teacher; but it comprises only a thin slice of what I really do; and why I do it.
Teaching, for me, is not just about the subject matter, it is about opening people’s minds up to new and novel possibilities. I love getting people to think, shifting them from their perspective; having them at least consider, alternative points of view and new paradigms. Teaching someone yet another way to break an arm, choke someone out or take them down is fun (as both an academic and physical challenge) but getting those self-same people to build ‘learning skills’, learning skills that they can make use of in other areas of their lives, is a much more important outcome for me. I love teaching people to problem-solve, to achieve through ‘process’, to find joy in challenge; to overcome and to prevail. Giving power to others is something that feeds my soul (pardon the platitude); much in the same way that saving animals nourishes another great martial arts friend of mine (The legendary Dave Meyer: www.adoptapet.com). The driving force behind what I do, is not altruism (like it is for David); rather it is selfish – I get my sense of satisfaction and fulfilment from teaching other people how to ‘work the problem’ and ‘prevail’. 
I despise the idea that we are floating haplessly on the current of life, powerless to paddle where we want to go and subject to external forces at every turn; I rail against that, and by teaching others to do the same, it makes me feel that I am, to some degree, paddling my own course and in the manner of my own choosing. If others benefit from this – then we get a nice precessional effect; the queen gets her honey.

I focus on the precessional effects created by my actions and decisions and as a result, I incidentally (at least to me) achieve certain goals that I once considered to be important. In one sense though, the precessional effects of what we do and the goals we think are important to achieve, cannot exist without the other. The pollen-collecting honey-bee doesn’t need to know that he is integral to the cross-pollination of flowers; he is just serving his purpose and the world at large reaps the benefits. Food for thought.
JBW

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