When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:
I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me
I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me
I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull
I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death
I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed
I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes
I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados
I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers
The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn
Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung
WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE
The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated.” - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources
“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames
“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne
Pain, we have it as a defense mechanism as well as a warning system for our bodies. It is meant to let us know when things go wrong to we may take appropriate actions, etc. You get a headache, you mind/brain says, "aspirin." You stub your toe, you learn to not do that, i.e. watch for projections that are on the ground that may not be to forgiving when hit with your foot.
You get "hit." A real good indication when you feel it and its resulting pain to work hard at, "not getting hit."
If all we had to do was to feel the pain and then take the learned action it might not be so bad but current research seems to indicate that pain, its level and intensity for example, are either greater or less due to the "stories" we might attach to that pain. Our minds are once again creating a system that can and does exacerbate the bodies systems that tend to warn and help us survive and remain somewhat healthy.
I am once again alluding to the need as a fundamental of any system, especially a martial system, training the mind. Start with seeing knowledge that relates to it and its abilities, relate them to what you do, and finally find those training methods that will enhance your mental/minds ability and capabilities.
In this instance as an example is mindful awareness of the mind-body and by osmosis the spirit. It has been shown that mindful meditation on such things as pain, by focus on feelings or feeling pain, its intensity, etc., once can lessen its overall effects. The most important aspect of this practice by the experts is one must not attach any stories to the pain, i.e. "Oh my foot hurts so bad!" Attaching stories tends to trigger systems that intensify pain.
As the source material has explained to me, when you turn your mind in to the pain, feel it and make sure the stories that your mind WILL want to attach you can, in time, lessen the pain's intensity thus reducing the discomfort. In the explanations they use a headache as a example. You come to work with a slight headache. Since you are not focused on anything other than your discomfort and most likely have attached a story to it, "Oh my aching head, it is so terrible I might not be able to work, etc." you are focus in it and causing it to intensify.
You go to work and suddenly find some crises which you dive right into and lo-n-behold you suddenly realize after a short time your headache with either gone of you forgot about it yet when you focused on that fact it came back once again in all its glory, etc.
Ever experience that phenomenon? I can be we all have so the goal in mindful meditative awareness of the body tends to help in this but removing the stories is a big part of controlling and overcoming pain's effects.
Now also consider this when in training, you are sparring and get punched in the stomach. You tend to put a story on it, "Oh shit that hurt." You then naturally grab your stomach and guess what? Your partner will continue to tag you until you concede or tap out, etc.
When in training and you encounter that tendency to add a story to something, stop, breathe deeply and slowly and rid yourself of that story. You lost a match, you start a story like "oh, I am just no good at this stuff, I should have been able to win, etc." Drop it, stop, breathe and remove it for it will just cripple you and your practice. Take the monkey brain emotional tirade/story and tell the monkey to get lost. Everyone wins and loses, learn from it, find the part that caused you to get hit and hurt and then train diligently to "not get hit again."
Ok, one more ... lets do a dojo sparring session example: You're going to spar tonight. Sensei wants you to spar with the dojo's Dai-sempai. You look over and he is a big dude with a reputation of being very tough, although fair. You feel a touch of apprehension then the monkey starts to dance. You say to yourself, "This guy is going to clean my clock." Monkey adds a bit of gas to the flame of fear so it goes up a notch. You say to yourself, "There is no way I can do anyting against this guy, I bet I get hurt, this is going to be painful ..." Monkey adds a bit more gas, the flame of fear goes up.
By the time your turn comes around you get on the dojo floor, your stomach is turning flips, your hands are shaking, your breathing is shallow and ragid, the adrenaline hit you moments ago and now your hardly able to see anything but the really big tough Dai-sempai. Your knees are shaking and sweat breaks out on your fact and you have not done anything strenuous the last fifteen minutes.
Ok, fear is natural. You will have some when you are sparring with someone like this BUT what is really causing you all the grief and physical issues is the "story" you keep, actually your monkey brain dancing on your confidence, adding on fanning the flames of fear ever higher and hotter.
Here is a better way. You feel the fear, you stop, you start feeling your facial muscles then relax them while you breathe deeply, slowly, and rhythmically with total mental focus on the breath. You become mindful of your shoulders hunching up so you feel it, acknowledge it and then through mindful focus relax and let your shoulders return to a good position, relaxed.
You hear the monkey start to add a story to the feeling of fear so you say, "STOP!" You do the breathing and mindful focus/awareness of the body thing. You step out on the dojo floor to face Sensei, you continue to breath and relax the body. You face Dai-sempai, breathe, relax and bow. Now, you keep dismissing the monkey chatter, the stories it is trying very hard to insert, you breathe and hear Sensei say, "Hajime!"
Breathe and focus on Dai-sempai and ignore his/her words, if any, and wait for the Dai-sempai to enter your clear zone and you move off center and life goes on...
Rid yourself of the Monkey Stories! Remain mindful of your body and counter its normal actions with breathing, present moment mindfulness and let training and practice do its work. After all you trained hard and you practice hard, let it do the work for you and shackle the monkey chatter, the stories!
This type of thing goes for sparring, tournaments, testing, anything where you mind and body experience such things as fear and doubt. Stop the stories, remain present, breathe, etc. It works, no kidding.