Martial Secrets: Training

People Tire of Truth

It is intriguing that when people tire of an experience, a story, or an event they have a tendency to dismiss it. The dismissal is applied across the board, almost universally to truth and falsehood alike.

When I used to work in politics, yes I was a political consultant back in the day, we knew that most unwholesome actions of a candidate would be forgiven… if people tired of it.

People would say phrases like, “I already know that, “or “Yeah, that is old news.” When we heard that coming from the voting population it was music to our ears because we knew we could get over, that the voters measured issues in regard to newness, and not credence.

The danger in this form of reasoning, or measurement, is that it dismisses truth and lies equally; they are not equal.

How does this affect us as martial artists? Generally, we as martial artists are self-starters, disciplined, focused and hopefully seek truth in our training. We should seek truth and hold on to it when we find it and not drop it in pursuit of the next shinny technique, truth does not get old and neither does a good technique. By tending to and focusing on truth in your training you allow it to mature. Chasing the next shinny techniques like a 64 oz. Pepsi charged five year old loose in a Chucky Cheese is not terribly attractive.

I think it was Bruce Lee who said, “Absorb what is useful.” I am adding, “…and never tire of the truth.”

As I noted last week, while in the doctor’s office I came across an article in the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics” titled, “Smith’s Rules of Design.” Because the rules apply so well to the martial arts, I wanted to write about each of them separately.

This is number two in a series of four.

2. Study the Problem

The Scientific Method of studying a problem reads this way:

1. Define the question
2. Gather information and resources (observe)
3. Form hypothesis
4. Perform experiment and collect data
5. Analyze data
6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

The Scientific Method has gotten the modern world very far and is the standard of research, good stuff, imperial evidence, and reductive thinking. If you use these six points in trying to discern your art, you will go very far.

However, the greatest martial artists we have seen have been, as the title implies, artists. They have, or have had, the ability to take a situation and intuit, or sense, the situation without much reasoning. They have, through hours of practice, studied the problem. And after some time they have blended the scientific with the art and solved the problem.

While in the doctor’s office I came across an article in the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics” titled, “Smith’s Rules of Design.” Because the rules apply so well to the martial arts, over the next four blogs I am going to address each of them separately.

1.” If You Want to Make Something 10x Cheaper, Remove 90% of the Material.”

That is clear, clean stuff. I interpreted it to have two possible meanings: 1) cheaper means faster to make and get it in operation, or 2) whatever is made is not going to last. A one-day self-defense seminar is 10x cheaper because 90% of the material has been removed. There is no history, tradition, discipline, dedication, self-exploration, and several other items. Now the other thing is that cheaper is frequently associated with poor quality and that is not often true. If you define the item by its use then maybe it is not cheap? If my goal is to build ships that move troops quickly and are designed just for that, then is the troop transport cheap, or efficient, or both?

So the question is, what is over-engineered in our lives? After a little audit on my part, I threw out three bags of meaningless garbage, gave some stuff away, and streamlined some training at the dojo. And it was all done right away.

Here is an example of Smith’s Rules of Designs #1 applied to a wind generator – brilliant.

The Internets

The other day I bought a record album off the Internet for the first time (look at me… “record album”!). It wasn’t too hard; within thirty seconds I had a fresh digitally downloaded copy of Johnny Adams sings Doc Pomus.

The other day I had a parent ask me, “How much longer until my kid gets a black belt?” These two instances are very different and yet identical. The commonality is immediacy. A generation ago that would have been unthinkable. Well, to be honest, in my youthful ignorance and impatient attitude I did ask once…, but, oooohh. I didn’t do that again. It was just not done.

But today I have to handle those sorts of , “When is my next test?” questions differently than my instructor did back then. The reason is that most people buy a song off the web just like I did the other day. They used a fast pass to pay the toll on the bridge, not stopping, just whizzing by. They used a bus pass they renewed off the web. Heck, nobody waits in line for concert tickets anymore. So in a world where many needs are almost met instantly, why would the martial arts be any different?

The difference is this. To buy a really good musical instrument, say, a guitar, you go shopping. You need to go feel it; you might do some research, but the purchase of an expensive musical instrument takes time and actual physical contact. It is something you can’t get on the web or with a fast pass for tolls. You have to spend time and feel the art. And just like a good musician meld with the great instrument. you need to meld yourself with the techniques of your art.

The one thing that can’t be compressed and e-mailed is the dojo floor.