Icebergs Instead Of Mountains


Icebergs Instead Of Mountains

We call them the ‘pontificators’, they have a view on everything, usually borne out of ignorance and just have to let everyone know.

They are the proverbial ‘pain in the ass’ in any club.  There is an old saying that “if you ever look down on someone – it should be to give them a helping hand up” but the ‘pontificators’ do the opposite. They are unable to elevate themselves, so they beaver away trying to make others feel smaller and undermine their confidence.

“You shouldn’t have passed your dan grading… you really weren’t good enough,  I wouldn’t have passed you…”   Ross had the knife into one of the young dan grades and was twisting it.

“Leave him alone Ross, he’s a youngster, he doesn’t know you’re kidding.”  The youngster’s worried frown eased as the older black belt fired a warning shot across Ross’s bow.

“His fighting and self defence wasn’t powerful enough” whined Ross.  “He shouldn’t have passed.”

“So you’re saying that sensei’s judgement, bearing in mind that he was judging dan gradings whilst you were in nappies, was wrong?”

Ross knew he was on the spot.  “What I’m saying is that I wouldn’t have passed him.”

“Good thing you’re not the Chief Instructor then!”  Everyone laughed and Ross reddened.

The youngster escaped into the Dojo to train but you could see that Ross’s nastiness had done its work and he felt undermined.

Ross was a natural athlete and could perform most techniques to a reasonable standard, this meant that he never had to work too hard on them but still relied on physical strength, his acting, his ability to get into other peoples heads and undermine them – and his nastiness.

In the Dojo he was pontificating again, “I learned this locking sequence on a course, it’s far superior to the one that sensei teaches” he was slamming an unfortunate brown belt around in a fancy locking sequence and giving him a lot of unnecessary pain.  Sensei sauntered along.

“What yer doing there Ross?  That’s not what I was teaching.”

“I was using the same ideas in this sequence sensei, to take it to the next stage.”  Sensei didn’t bat an eyelid at the unintended, yet arrogant insult.

“Really…..  show me.”  Ross started to slam the brown belt around happy to be the centre of attention.  The brown belt knew that he was going to get hurt and was already wincing and yielding before Ross put the lock on.

“Slow down there Ross, this is a training partner, you have to respect their joints or no one’s going to want to partner with you….”  That was true, we all avoided partnering him like the plague.  When sensei asks everyone to ‘partner up’ if one of the young boys he liked to order about and humiliate wasn’t around, he was always the odd one left on his own.  “Show it on me.”  Sensei extended his arm.

As Ross went to put the first lock on Sensei remained softly in position and Ross ‘juddered’ unable to make the lock work.  “Didn’t seem to work Ross, your arms are out of alignment to your body.”  Sensei wasn’t being obstructive but he also wasn’t being over compliant, he was observing the eight principles and because he had practiced them longer and harder than Ross, his frame knocked Ross out of alignment every time he went to apply the lock.

Ross tried every trick in the book.  He tried using force and it simply disconnected him more violently.  He tried using pressure points to make sensei more compliant but sensei’s sanchin ‘iron shirt’ training meant that they had no visible effect.  Sensei remained relaxed and impassive, “no…..  you’ve still not got the basics right there Ross, tell you what, drop the fancy stuff and get back to basics to work on your alignment….”

Ross was furious and felt that sensei had humiliated him.  “Well it worked on all the others” he wailed.

“Yes Ross, it worked on all the people that know that you are going to hurt them, those that are compliant because they want to work with you, but it didn’t work on me and I wasn’t exactly struggling was I?

“No you weren’t, but then you’ve been training for a lifetime longer than me!”

“And do you think that those techniques would work on a good street fighter that doesn’t know you?  Or on someone ‘coked up’, drunk or on PCP?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take it from me they won’t.  THAT is why we work on the basic locks first, applying the eight principles.  Fancy techniques are fine if you’ve mastered the basics, but you haven’t even found your basic alignments, let alone hold and utilise them in a combat scenario.  We don’t teach some of those locks because they simply don’t work.

Look at these young dan grades here… (sensei just happened to point out the young lad that Ross was pillorying earlier) they are simply working on the basics and are able to make the locks work…”

Sensei couldn’t have heard what took place earlier, but he couldn’t have chosen a better example under the circumstances.  The young dan grade smiled and carried on with a little ‘spring’ in his step.

“Icebergs instead of mountains Ross….”

“What on earth does that mean?”

“It means depth instead of height, fancy routines might impress vulnerable people, but it won’t impress me or a cokehead that wants to rip your face off.  We focus on the eight principles because they need to be in place to make a technique work.  Someone watching might not be impressed, but it’s those fundamental principles that make them work.”

“Actually sensei, I was thinking about the principles and wanted to add something to them….  I was thinking of …..”

Sensei cut him short.  “Ross…..  you are too inexperienced to do this, whatever you are going to say, you will find that it is contained within the eight principles, you have just failed to find them yet, you can’t even apply them on basic locks!  Find some depth in your training, don’t try to make yourself bigger by making others smaller.  Encourage others to improve, work with the system and gain some depth.  Don’t work to accumulate techniques and knowledge to impress others, work to lose negative qualities in yourself, such as arrogance, pride and the need to impress.”


“Yes Ross, icebergs and not mountains…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s