It is nice when my peers tell me I am doing the right thing. I like it when I get cultural reassurance, a metaphorical nod in my direction that says, “That was well done, you’re a good person.” However cultural reassurance is not always right and is as flexible as a Cirque du Soleil’ contortionist. If I spend two years working on a wristlock, having my partners honor that technique, being cooperative and everybody in the dojo behaving in that pattern, I have a great amount of cultural reassurance. I feel good about what I am doing, and soon I begin to believe it, I justify in my mind that the technique is rock solid and others join in that dance of cultural reassurance. Then the day comes where the person on the other end of the technique does not dance my dance, they have a far different culture…I am no longer reassured, and in fact I am cracked open, not reassured, in fact I feel betrayed. The question now is, “Should I be angry at myself or the culture that set me up for this failure?” Pause for effect…you should blame yourself. The culture that you have subscribed to is going to do whatever it needs to do to propagate itself, including lie to you, it can’t help it is what it does.
You are responsible to yourself and what you choose to believe and do. Martial Arts schools are bubble baths of cultural reassurance warmly soaking each student in their brand of comfort and truth. That doesn’t mean that your school is wrong or leading you down a path of cultural reassurance, based on falsehood, lies, it means it is doing what it does and you need to decide for yourself what you will accept.