Posts Tagged ‘Growth’

Empty your cup

Posted: September 24, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
Tags: , ,

empty your cup.jpgWalking into a classroom of any type can be a daunting task. You walk into a room knowing you will leave havier than you did before. Heavier in knowledge, or doubt, or pride, success, failure and weighed down further by the growth you will have achieved one way or another. This is however if you went into the learning environment with an empty cup. Or rather you went in to learn with an open mind. This applies to academics, or martial arts, or any place where there is someone offering something in the way of knowledge or skills.

Yet why do so many fail to understand that if you want to learn you must go in with fewer expectations, not more?

In martial arts, krav maga or otherwise, you would think this is a given yet there are always so many with too many expectations and full cups.

One such group is locked heavily on personal preference or experience, whether it be personal or what they have seen. Some especially in Krav Maga, come in and think they know how a class oaught to be because they saw it on the internet. Or they know what they like and it doesn’t matter that there may be others in the class. Or they come in with experience but the new school is not like their old one and they remind every one about it.  This is one group of people whos cups are not empty. They came in with preconceived ideas about how their class or school should be without bothering to actually learn openly.

Another group is locked little more in their minds and a little bit in the experience. Even when standards are clearly laid out they often feel like they are ready, or not ready for a particular promotion or role. Some think they are ready to be promoted, yet they have not met the expected standards yet. Others have met the standards and have been told they are ready and yet for one reason or another they feel they are not. One of these is an overestimation and the other an underestimation. Both each with their flaws in different ways and yet they both are examples of not having an empty cup. In both, they think they know better than those who are measuring progress, have set the standards or are the ones responsible for grading. While in some cases there may be specific examples of malicious intent, in most it is simply a matter of the question, do these people meet the standards? Yes or no. While these types should not follow their instructors blindly they also show a lack of trust in the judgment of their instructors. For they have determined internally that they know what is best, even if they may not entirely.

The last are the ones who are not even willing to learn at all for they are too trapped by their own minds to start with an empty cup. They think they cant do it, and then they psych themselves out of progress. They demonstrate they can do the technique, the skill or pass on the knowledge yet they have convinced themselves they cannot. In many ways, these are the hardest to teach for there is something going on that the instructor may not be equipped to deal with. It is often something deeper in the person such as trauma or social issues. It is probably not their fault, yet they need to empty their cups of those block lest they feel even more helpless with their lack of progress in knowledge or skill and stop themselves altogether from any learning or growth at all.

These three groups while wildly different all have the idea that they want to learn. Yet they start with their cups full. The hardest part of learning is often just stepping in the door and getting started. The second hardest part is opening your mind so that you can actually enjoy the learning process. If you enjoy the style, the skill or knowledge you are learning but you are not enjoying your self, then perhaps its the instructor or the school. But if the problem follows you where ever you go. Ask your self if you fit into one of the groups mentioned above and ask your self, is your cup really empty. Or was it full the entire time.

Either way, knowledge is power, and knowing is half the battle. So which is it, is your cup empty or is your cup full?

 

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Know your self.jpg

Sometimes the answers we seek have already been learned but we are too proud, to scarred or too weak to accept the reality. Sun Tzu knew this thousand’s of years ago in ancient china. The full quote goes as such:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are two aspects of this quote, one the good strategy of studying your enemy is something I can talk about another time as I want to focus on knowing your self.

Fear is a powerful thing. It is a built-in biological mechanism designed to protect us from harm and death. Once upon a time, this was good when the threat was lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! But now in the modern world, we are still using these mechanisms designed to protect us from predators against things like homework, large social structure, modern workplaces, social media and generally far too much stimulus than we are really designed to handle.

What this means is that we often create fear where none need exist.

but did you die.jpgI often say when teaching the only real fail in self-defense or in general is death.

So you are worried about being judged, even if you are judged, did you die?

So you lost your match, but did you die?

So what, you failed your final exam, but did you die?

We often for one reason or another either from external pressure or internal ones activate the fear mechanism to not do something or to stress out when we dont need to. This is not good. If you are stressed due to a perceived fear then you will not be able to focus or perform as well as you can. Which means it might just actually all be in your head. This is what the knowing your self aspect of the quote means. If you are unable to control your emotions and fears in any given situation you will not be able to do the best that you can. If you take every “Failure” as a learning experience then you will ever grow stronger. But if you perceive every “Failure” as a near-death experience your body will treat it as such and you may just spiral into an unproductive fear loop that paralysis you and prevents you from the growth you know you are capable off.

Ask your self honestly, how well do you really know yourself. If you look deep and dont like things about yourself or your life then change it. If you learn what the issues are that are causing the fear it may even help you move forward. One thing is for certain is that if you only ever dwell in your fears than it won’t be better. For you and you alone have the power to change how you perceive things. Whether your fear something or not ask your self honestly, will fearing that thing or not fearing that thing cause you immediate death? If the answer is no, then guess what you have nothing to fear but fear its self.

So how well do you know your self? and what are you afraid of?

P.S. If you lived a full fruitful life, then death is not even something to fear for you will have left a lasting legacy behind you that hopefully caused the growth and development of the next generation of humanity.

Every morning in the wild a gazelle awakens. One thing is for sure for the gazelle for that day, as every other: She must run faster than the fastest lion. If she cannot, she will be killed and eaten.

Every morning, a lion awakens. For the lion, too, one thing is certain. This day, and everyday, he must run faster than the slowest gazelle.

Whether fate names you a gazelle or a lion is of no consequence. It is enough to know that with the rising of the sun, you must run, and you must run faster than the day before, for the rest of your days, or you will die.

We all have to run; run the race of life. – An African Poem, Race of Life, Netflix 2017

Occasionally instead of putting on my usual Netflix debauchery, I find it soothing to watch a nature series or documentary. Recently, I started to watch the shot Race for life on Netflix. The beginning starts with the poem as written above.

Of course, I have seen variations of this quote prior usually on motivational posters or in business guides, but this is so far my favourite.

It seems to me despite what the Lion King taught us about the circle of life, the newer generation either do not understand it, accept it or simply ignore it. This two is applied to evolution and how it operates. There is a common myth believed by most that evolution has some kind of definitive set end goal. The truth is it does not. It is simply a mechanism following some kind of not tangible universal code based on the principles of action and reaction.

For the gazelle to avoid the lion it developed speed and agility, and for the lion to catch the gazelle it must rely on explosive power, strength and strategy. Evolution is simply the action of one species or entity reacting to its environment or predators so that it can best continue to exist as a species. The saying, Adapt or Die could never be truer.

As you can see above, each species reacts to the others defence mechanism so that it can better survive.  – Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

When it comes to the environment for example, though I fully support sustainable practices, it is also a myth that the environment must stay in a constate static state. With or with out human intervention or existence it operates on an action reaction potential. Species have lived and died for millions and millions of years prior to human existence because they like us now operate based on the same universal code that guides the evolutionary process.

Let’s take a look at the free market and apply the evolutionary process as well. Cars to be specific. If you look at any decade you can often see a distinct style and specification for cars. There was once a time for example when big cars with big engines were popular. Now it’s all about fuel efficiency and safety. So how do the evolutionary principles of adapt or die apply here? Simple, Auto makers must adapt their product lines to which are being sold based on the consumers purchasing power. If an automaker continues to make the same thing because that’s what they are known for unless they are trying to be a small niche market, they too will most likely die because they failed to adapt. As the consumer no longer demands the product that they are offering.

We can sit here and pretend things will always be the way they always were or are but this is foolish as this does not seem to be how things work, anywhere.

lion-vs-gazelle quote.jpg

I recently wrote an article called The Specialist vs the Generalist. One of my students told me there definitely needs to be specialist which I do address albeit briefly, and yes I agree. However, just like in nature specialist do not adapt well to change. Usually, species that are overly specialised will parish should anything drastically change such as their food source adapting to them or the environment changing. While species that are more generalistic in nature can either adapt to the new settings, such as find a new food source. or move to a new location and adapts as has happened many times in the past. For example species in the past that were once land dwelling but are now aquatic or were aquatic but are now land dwelling.

I again make the argument that for the time being humans when compared to other species are in general generalists.

As always I like to connect things to Krav Maga and Self defence when possible. In a given self defense situation, it is unlikely that things will go according to the way you trained in the gym. And this is to be expected. A good Kravist can evolve and adapt in the moment based on their training, experience and ability to survive any given situation. This is why I focus heavy on critical thinking in training in addition to our moves. The ability to critically think in the moment gives you the greater chance to evolve and adapt while still applying Krav Maga principles like retzev (Continous Attack).

This is probably why so many traditional martial arts fail to be practical in realistic self defense. They chose to stay rigid and strong to the cultural and regional beliefs or methods that did not apply in other areas of the world. Or they adapted in the wrong way to focus more on sports application thus making them less adapted for the street.

I really do not know, at least on an intrinsic level why people fear change so much. I guess it’s currently a primal reaction that we are having difficulty evolving out of. The reality is, whether you are a gazelle or a lion, rich or poor, black or white, a planet, a sun the universe. If you cannot adapt to the change around you, you will only struggle, stagnate and die (literally or figuratively).

So just like the Gazelle or Lion keep on running and learn to adapt in a way that gives you a long, healthy and meaningful life.