A confession first… I’ve never written a blog before. Heck, I’ve never even kept a journal (despite my freshman year English professor’s insistence). Outside of a few letters of recommendation and some ad copy, I haven’t really written anything substantive in many years. So this is both a first AND somehow something I’m rusty at. That’s not so much an apology, as a warning… buckle up there are bumpy roads ahead 🙂
Here we go…
Always be a perpetual student… the concept was first taught to me when I was young by my father. I remember the books on tape he would play in the car by guys name Zig and Tony. The mind, your brain… this was harped upon as being your most important asset and tool. It was to be cultivated, nurtured, protected, and fed constantly. Later, my high school years focused heavily on this same idea. In their goal of preparing us for college studies and creating “men for others”, they harped upon the importance of an open mind and the continuation of learning. Then in college, I not only fed the brain voraciously, I also found Jiu Jitsu… specifically “American Jiu Jitsu”. This was a happy accident, and probably part of a future blog about unintended consequences. It has also fed my brain in ways never anticipated.
More about that style later, but an important note about martial training now. The martial arts (and the larger concept of self defense) is a geek’s playground. Physics, anatomy, cause and effect… all bound together in a laboratory where one can play and discover real time, specific results. All the steps of the scientific method can be put to use over and over. Hypothesize, test, make notes, discuss with others… wash, rinse and repeat. Add to that the potential for research in both techniques outside your particular discipline and “the real world” uses… THEN the legal elements to be considered. The responsibilities that come along with it. The moral and ethical considerations…. The volumes written on this are limitless and thanks to the advent of youtube, the video to be researched is getting there. Yup… geek’s playground.
American Jiu Jitsu…or AJJ from here on out….
I am horribly biased…. But AJJ is the best thing since sliced bread, oxygen and bacon. Just to give you some background, much like the country it is named for, AJJ is a combo of the best elements of many backgrounds. The throws, ground fighting and joint locks from Jiu Jitsu (Broken out these days into Judo, Aikido and BJJ), coupled with the strikes from Muay Thai, the weapon work from Kali and frankly whatever else is good and helps make students better and stronger. That last piece is my favorite… there is a solid base. That solid base gives you an understanding on how combat functions on a purely mechanical level… BUT… that’s never to say it encompasses everything out there. Got a good adrenaline drill from Krav Maga? We’ll use that. A fun flow drill that can improve hand/eye coordination from FMA? Awesome, thank you. Verbal skills package that will make students safer without ever throwing a punch? Gratefully accepted, we will need it.
OK, back to continued learning. I’ve found far too many people who go to work, go home, watch TV and go to bed. It’s a sad existence. A while back, I happened across an article that focused on the types of vacation people take and their benefits. The end game was simple, active vacations lead to a higher level of relaxation. That trip hiking does more to relax you than sitting on the beach. Of course there are exceptions to all rules, but the article unlocked something for me. I am most relaxed when I’m engaged. I’m having the most fun when I am challenged. I am the most satisfied when I have opened up a new pathway in my brain and made progress on its development. I blame my dad… and my high school teachers… and my sensei… and all the other wonderful and amazing instructors I’ve discovered ever since.
A last thought… the learning cycle starts with Unconscious Incompetence. Translation, you don’t know what you don’t know. In the last few years alone, the number of times that I have been struck with “Huh, I had no point of reference for “X” before right now” has been more than I can remember. It was easier when I was a kid and thought I knew everything 🙂 This particular realization (and my dad’s voice ringing in the back of my brain) has kept my mind open to new ideas and possibilities. Like this blog for instance…
I’d like to end with a challenge for YOU. It’s is currently the end of November 2017. Pick something you’ve wanted to learn more about and order a book, watch a video, listen to a podcast about that topic. Talk to friends about it, you’ll be shocked who in your network is already versed in it PLUS this is a great path towards ownership. Do it before the year ends. You have the time, you just have to make it a priority.