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Cognitive Dissonance In The Martial Arts

face claw

I posted recently on Facebook about Firemen who rescued some piglets from a fire and how the grateful farmer then slaughtered them and rewarded the firemen with sausages made from their carcasses. As a meditation I suggested that if that made the readers uncomfortable it might be because they were experiencing ‘cognitive dissonance’ because they might hold two opposing views about the piglets, one because they are cute and cuddly and the other because they like them as food.

This then made me think that it might be a good idea to draw some of my teachings together under this label to explain the difference between blind assumptions that create the condition and using it as a tool in our martial arts and in stressful times.

Let me explain.

In the book ‘The Prehistory Of The Mind’ Steven Mithen explains the development of the human mind as like ‘a Swiss army penknife’ with utilities like the need for survival, the need for love and affection, the need to procreate, the need to communicate and recognising what we need to eat and so on that develop faster than all other parts of the mind. These utilities are separate from each other and this explains why we can see baby pigs as cute and cuddly one moment and then be eating them later; as it utilises different parts of the mind.

Steven then relates how as humankind developed, some people have developed channels between these utilities and can start to relate one to the other, bringing about in some the need to reconcile the apparent dissonance between the two.

So in our meditation and self study we need to recognise the ‘blind assumptions’ about everything that our culture and upbringing has given us as a set of views and values and then apply our own critical thinking to them to decide if we really do think that way and to find what our views really are. This process dramatically changed me as a person as I realised that I had previously just adopted the views and values of my family and culture without challenging them!  I had been wearing a mask all this time and not known it, my deep rooted fears and anxieties were borne out of cognitive dissonance because the views I thought I held weren’t really me and deep down I felt uncomfortable with them.

Good meditation took me through this process of self examination to find out who I really was and to find my own resonance.  It was a huge relief to eventually discover who I was and the views that really resonated with me.

Then as martial artists we can train this dissonance as a tool when life serves up it’s usual unpalatable fayre. If we have to defend ourselves or someone else, or fight to keep the peace and we don’t like hurting anyone or anything, we need the skill to be able to disassociate our connection to another person to see them purely as a target to hurt them enough to stop them and this is where a trained ‘cognitive dissonance’ can work for good.

When I’ve had to take a loved pet to the vet to have them put down, when someone close to me is dying painfully, when all I want to do is to collapse in a sea of emotion but someone has to take action to get things done, that necessary separation, if well trained, can come to the fore.

If you are an empathic person and naturally link into someone else’s anger, pain, suffering or depression you end up taking on their emotions and life can be really hard! The person might feel better after an hour but you can still be walking about with their depression for weeks if you’re not careful! Again training for that separation, so you can deal with their emotions positively, you create that ‘cognitive dissonance’ until you can bring the resonance between you back is a real skill.

The ability to be able to ‘wake up’ using mindfulness, to examine our mind and opinions, to discover who we really are what we really think, to understand and connect the different parts of our mind and draw on that embedded ‘utilitarian’ part as a skillset takes regular daily training can be truly life changing – and it helps to develop the necessary toolbox to make us more emotionally intelligent.

That has got to be worth the effort!

 

 

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Articles, Uncategorized

Keep Your Child Safe!

Cerys guard

VERY IMPORTANT!

This is the time of the year that children are going up a school, from Infants to Junior and importantly from Junior to Senior and Senior to University.

Parents in their infinite wisdom decide that their children will have more homework and often drop their martial arts training and teenagers going to university often move away from the area of their club and don’t bother to find a new one.

THIS IS A BIG MISTAKE!

Why? The children going from Junior to Senior school will need to move up in their martial arts club to the adult training; because the bullies they will invariably encounter will be adult size and age. Their training needs to change to be able to deal with it emotionally and physically. They will soon be going out on their own and with friends and going to nightclubs and will encounter  nasty weaponised violence, their bodies are rapidly changing and they are likely to suffer attempted sexual assault, they will be changing friends and likely to befriend people that will try to introduce them to drugs. If they are able to keep their friends and be training in a healthy, challenging environment in a martial arts club and learning how to deal with all these new dangers they will have a MUCH better chance of staying sane, healthy and safe.

Homework and study can be challenging, the biggest enemies to academic success are distraction and laziness, the ability to be able train in a club and at home to learn to remain aware and focused are essential skills. you can only study for so long and need an activity that will correct posture, breathing, awareness and focus – what better than martial arts that will also keep you safe and can be practised anywhere, at any time without any special equipment?

Universities are the target of many different kinds of criminal, young, naive, distracted vulnerable targets make for easy pickings, muggings, rape, sexual assault and home invasion are most likely to happen at this time. Emotional intelligence, awareness and good training is essential to deal with these problems.

Schools and universities have become number crunchers and box tickers, they don’t like to admit they have these problems, at the end of the day the only person to keep youngsters safe at the time is inevitably the youngster themselves. They need good training.

The best thing parents can do is to keep their children and youngsters engaged in their martial arts wherever possible, make sure they are getting the right kind of training and give as much encouragement as possible – failure to do so can result in a very heavy price indeed.

 

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Articles, Uncategorized

Direct Knowledge Is Different

steve profile books

 

I used to get my knowledge and wisdom from others at lectures, in books and lecture tapes.  I would meditate for ages on the wisdom of the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Ajhan’s Chah and Sumedho, Alan Watts, Kahil Gibran and many others, I studied Buddhism, Zen, Chan, Taoism, Wicca, Paganism, Ritual Magik, Spiritualism and all their associated arts, but when the breakthrough occurred, I stopped.

No longer did I need to refer to others, because I was able to look inside and find my own ‘wisdom mind’. When I sat or stood still, I could access the part of me that I never could before and I found the true purpose of meditation.

Before, I knew a lot about these subjects and could quote a host of others and what they thought about them, but I didn’t really know what I was talking about because I didn’t have the direct experience. I thought I had because I had the knowledge, but it hadn’t changed me as a person. A big difference!

When a Buddhist monk lectured, they would sit quietly first and when they spoke it was like something spoke through them, they could answer questions with frightening honesty and humility but I never quite got what they were doing until it happened to me. In the Martial Arts I would see true mastery when a teacher could just respond with whatever someone threw at them with ease and never have to bully to impress. Eventually I realised that when you had absorbed the knowledge properly with the right kind of mind – you became it.

Meditation became my study instead of reading, instead of acting the part I became it.  My martial arts training became a meditation. Whenever I needed help or advice, instead of going to a book, I sat still, when I had a problem, in that stillness I always found the answer.

I could teach and lecture without notes, all I had to do was go to that place in my mind and everything came out in a well structured approach sensitive to the audience and students needs.

I had found the difference between knowing about something and actually knowing it.

There are many that know ‘about’ various subjects and can quote just about everyone, but those that really ‘know’ directly and are it, live it every day.

And they truly are like diamonds on a beach of pebbles.

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Principled Training And Existence

neck break

My Shi Kon training system is ‘principle based’. Principles are what makes everything work and we have 8 of them. If all 8 are in place, whatever you do will work. I only think and train in principles and strategies, techniques will be the result of them and can vary from situation to situation. This means that there is a area that techniques will appear different and still be ‘right’, many people find this confusing, “is it like this, or is it like this?” can sometimes be answered with “yes” because both are correct as they employ all 8 principles. Fighting is spontaneous and responsive and needs to vary according to the conditions, this is why principle based training is essential. I will vary what I’m doing according to the opponent or training partner and therefore don’t really have any ‘set’ routines, only ‘set’ principles and ideas. Narrow minded, linear thinking people find this intensely frustrating because they want a definitive ‘right and wrong’ and not what they see as a ‘fuzzy logic’ – but that’s the way fighting and life in general works. The resolution is whether it works in a spontaneous exchange or not – and definitive structured linear thinking techniques don’t work in a fight.

My club and association work in the same way.  Courtesy, kindness, compassion, patience and tolerance rule until we touch hands, then it becomes resolve, determination, courage, the 8 principles and 13 strategies. To mix these up is to lose, to understand how they function is essential. If you make rules, you will just keep making them to cover the exceptions until everyone is confused and they don’t work, but principles underlay all behaviour and are quite clear to people when the ideas are grasped.

Understand quite clearly what principles are, without them the technique and the person will be weak and easily fail, with them both will always be strong, connected, harmonious and powerful.

Strategies are dynamic, interchangeable and will flow through technique combining to make it useful but will not be ever present.

Truth just is. The principles that work in the microcosm of martial arts also work in the club and association structure, in business, family and in life generally.

Learn how to tell the difference between principle, strategy and technique.

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Poems, Uncategorized

If I die tonight

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Dedicated to my good friend the late Graham Wendes.

If I die tonight will the universe stop?
If I return to the Tao it will be like a wave returning to the sea;
No more ‘being human’ and only ‘sensing’ the infinite;
From whence I came, I will return and be it once more.
My ‘place of refuge’ becomes my home again.

In the infinite, all time exists all of the time, the theatre of life exists because the pot is stirred;
When stirred, one plays off against the other in a binary fashion, simple appears complicated as the picture of life is created;
Pulsing continuously into an ever changing picture like a TV signal;
With each part not realising that that they are all joined, made from the same binary code that itself joins to form the unrecognisable infinite.

The universe creates the unfolding drama to satisfy itself, we unwittingly keep recreating a similar drama for our amusement with theatre, films and TV –
When we wake up, we see it.

By Steve Rowe

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Articles, Uncategorized

Teaching Older People

Ted

 

Many of us these days teach people in their 70’s and above and it’s important for us to understand that even if their memory and body is breaking down, they are still a senior citizen and should command respect.

Don’t talk to them like they are a child, don’t get frustrated with them, be courteous, polite and break technique down until you find that which they are comfortable with.

They deserve dignity, they have often served their country, bought up families and paid their dues. Don’t put your ambitions and expectations on them, often they only want to stay alive, keep moving and mix comfortably with people of all age groups instead of sitting in an old people’s home singing ‘if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’.

Have patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion, courtesy and respect. Inside that arthritic, aged body and forgetful mind is often a person still as sharp as a razor with more to teach you than you can teach them.

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Articles, Uncategorized

Rules Of Self Defence and Bullying

Photo on 06-06-2017 at 15.53

Rules Of Self Defence And Bullying

YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU!
No-one can touch it unless you give consent.

YOUR PERSONAL SPACE BELONGS TO YOU!
No-one can enter it without your consent. The perimeter of your personal space is the point that you must react, reactions can range from “get out my face” with a polite hand to their chest to raising your hand to meet theirs with a redirection and maybe joint lock as it crosses that line to a pre-emptive strike in a dangerous situation.

BEYOND PERSONAL SPACE IS YOUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!
Stand tall, breathe deep and keep an aware and and focused mind.
Look people directly in the eye and speak and act confidently.
Use positive body language.
Be polite, courteous, kind, tolerant and patient with others.
When needed, be firm and do not allow anything you are not comfortable with.

CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE TO ACCOMMODATE THESE POINTS!
If you don’t, you will fail when it really counts, these aspects need to be practiced 24/7.

These 4 basic rules for both children and adults require training and changes to your lifestyle to be able react in this way under pressure. Any good martial arts club will focus on maintaining these rules under ever increasing pressure and technical training will give practical methods of dealing with any problems.

Training will include:
Knowing the law regarding self defence
Mind and emotional intelligence training
Street strategies
Work on distance, angle and avoidance
Grip releases
Street weaponry and their defences
Striking
Locking
Throwing
Strangles and chokes
Groundwork

I’ve kept this simple and to the most important points so they don’t get lost in a complex article.

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