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I guess most of you have heard of Socrates – he was a famous (or more accurately – infamous) Greek philosopher, who stalked the streets of Athens around 400 B.C. Socrates is one of my historical heroes – he was a man short on compromise – in fact, he died for his beliefs - but that's another story.
Socrates was not well-liked; certainly not by the establishment – because he always asked the hard questions; in doing so, he rocked the status quo and eventually was brought up on charges for ‘inciting the youth’ – and ‘living impiously’. he questioned - constantly - he couldn't not question - one of his famous sayings went something like "An unexamined life - is a life not worth living".
Socrates had a method of teaching that to a large extent underpins how I approach my own teaching. He had his students engage in ‘argument’ as a means of strengthening their respective positions. I like to think of this as ‘resistance training’ for the mind. The body doesn’t ‘adapt/change’ unless we apply pressure – and the same goes with our thinking. This, in my humble opinion, is what Socrates was doing with his ‘debative approach’ to learning.
I think of the evolution of martial arts/BJJ in the same way; we contest/we grapple/we fight as a means of strengthening each other’s technique and strategy. For Socrates, it was not about winning or losing – it was about uncovering ‘truth’. For me, as martial artist, it is not about winning or losing – it is about uncovering weakness and developing better strategy and technique. We contest – we argue – we strengthen each others position. We are in it together – for this common outcome. This is my Socratic approach … hope it helps someone.