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December 2011

120. Todays' Lesson In Corp-Speak

The truth is extreme .................... why yes it is, no it's not, yes it is, no it's .......

Sometimes this stuff almost writes itself.  On Face Book a comment on "corp-speak" aka "what over-paid, over-sexed, over-educated corporate suits going no-where in a hurry" say during a staff meeting was posted by a player I know (so of course I'm stealing 'cause it fits with my current blog-o-theme of facing the truth in your martial arts training).

Now been self-employed for the last 12 years or so but before that having spent 25 years plus in corporate america (plus a stint as a government employed troll for the State of Texas) I am all-to-familiar with this kind of mindset and the unbelievable BS that it engenders.  Here is what was posted on the FB account as the corp-use of "internalize" .....

Internalise - As in "What you have all failed to internalise is that there has been a paradigm shift.  As a result you are all now behind the curve when it comes to the multi-lateral interoperability needed to realise the supra-organisational mission statement.”  Even though there is an awful lot to detest in that statement "Internalise" is the word we most object to.  It appears to just means learn or remember but as telling someone to learn or remember something appears instructive, suggesting they internalise it will sound more empathetic, but at the severe cost of sounding like a clone-monkey."

Bwahaha .... how entertaining for a laugh (as long as you're not subject to being forced to be there) .......... how depressing to consider that live humans can actually say things like this with a straight face ....... and how illuminating to consider that this term of "internalize" complete with it's conjugation ("internalization") which has been used in martial arts for possibly centuries, has now been perverted to this amusing bit of empty dialogue as in "...It appears to just means learn or remember but as telling someone to learn or remember something appears instructive..."

Unfortunately I have in recent years run across, into, onto (after I threw them down) a few Aikido players cum martial artists who think that this corp-use is the only use when in actuality it is simply NOT.  It's not even in the same ballpark (remembering that the Japanese are real baseball fans).

In the MA when we speak of "interalize" or "internalization" what we are truly describing is the process that takes place over a long period of time as we run thru' kihon, then kata, then bunkai, then slow randori, then faster randori.

Consider the aspect of being human in how we do something as simple as blinking our eyes.  How many times a day do you do that?  A thousand?  Ten thousand?  You don't know; none of us do.  In fact, you're not even aware of blinking at all unless you force your conscious awareness into monitoring it and even then, something else (cup of coffee, a conversation, a noise down the hallway) will shift your consciousness to it and you'll go on blinking and continue not being aware of it.

That is true internalization .... something so ingrained into you, so automatic, so intuitive, so reflexive, so a part of your total existence that you do it (when hit with the proper stimulai) and you are never aware of it at all unless your force yourself to become aware of it.  As the Zen-meister said, "It just IS".

So if we accept this for a more appropriate definition of the term "interalize" then how do we apply it to the martial arts and to our training?

An article I read once and still have sitting in a paper file folder at home gave the results for a study done on tennis players in which researchers were attempting to discover the real difference between a good country-club weekend hacker and a world-class professional.

The answer?   The number 10,000.  10,000 hours ... 10's of thousands of repetitions of a movement such as how to serve the ball across the net.   The hacker was good but simply didn't put in the time to become world class.  The professional would train for hours everyday and do such things as standing at the base line with the racket in one hand and the ball in the other and do nothing more for 30 minutes or an hour than toss the ball in the air and cock the racket back for the serve.  The ball was never hit as the goal was to perfect the angle, height and body/racket position of where the ball, body and racket should be at the exact of service.

Then that was followed by an uncountable number of hours playing and not trying to score but simply to run back and forth across the court and recieve the service from the other side.  By doing so, the professional watches the ball and based upon how the other player holds their racket, moves across the court and the racket touches the tennis ball and how the string on the racket depresses at the moment of stroke, begins to interpret intuitively and instinctively ("internalize") where the ball will come across the net and where he has to be to meet it and then return it ot the other side.

Note that all of this cannot be a conscious effort when you're playing at Wimbleton.  It has to be "internalized" and completely intuitive, reactive and reflexive.  The first moment the conscious mind gets into this evaluation/decision process the player will miss the ball and lose the set and eventually the match.

The most common term for this full intuitive use of "internalized information/reflexes" is "In The Zone" and professional athletes will make such comments as "I don't know what I did.  I looked down and the ball was in my hands and I was across the goal line" or "My hands just kept hitting him all by themselves and suddenly he went down in the 2nd round and I won" or as the Samurai said, "The katana will know it's own technique".

So what truth is there here that's extreme?

10,000.  10,000 hours on the mat.  10,000 repetitions of kihon.  10,000 repetitions of principly correct waza.  10,000 hours of correct study of bunkai.  10,000 hours of slow, precise, methodical randori.

The truth is extreme when one suddenly realizes that all the "soft-touch" in the world, all the sitting and watching others train, all the seminars, all the wishing and the hoping just won't get you there.

Only 10,000 hours and 10,000 reps will actually "internalize" all the information your brain needs to turn your martial arts into something truly an integral part of your being; just like blinking your eyes.

See you on the mat. 

Now get to work and stop lolly-gagging around.

No more Kuchi-waza.

Start "internalizing"  .... bwahaha ...

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

Aikibudo Kancho

Aikibudokan, Houston, TX

December 2011


119. I Know All There Is to Know

As I posted last time; the truth really is extreme and as humans, we tend to avoid it as long as it doesn't catch up to us.

Fred (it could be an Ethel, I just like the name Fred as it sounds a little "non-serious")  is an Aikido player and has spent years on the mat before finally reaching that pinnacle of achievement ........... senior black belt-hood.  Actually, his rank isn't all that high but within his dojo he has become one of the seni0rs on the mat.  He is so highly ranked that when invited to learn new and stratospheric kata that he shows a slight ... shall we say ... demure hesitation. 

Demure?  Of course since he doesn't want Sensei to think him "uncommitted".

Hesitance?  That's the reaction you get when you ask him to do some extra work on that new and more difficult material.  It's subliminal and difficult to detect but there none-the-less.

So, what's that all about?

Humans in the dojo sometimes have the tendency to make a senior rank and then they begin to enjoy the position that comes with it including the authority granted them by Sensei, the admiration and respect of the junior players and in some extreme cases ... the hero worship from impressionable beginners who have no MA exposure and no seasoning.  In my last dojo I observed this behavior as it led to senior players beginning to farm the mat for sex from juniors (pretty detestable in IMO as people come to learn and not be subjected to "Happy Hour Behavior" and "Ladies Drink Free" nights.

This new position can be seductive especially if this new senior ranked player has never experienced it before.  Ah-HA you say; but what if he is a bank president or head of his corporate division or rich? He's already been worshipped there ... why the dojo?

No matter if all of those are the case outside the dojo.  Inside the dojo is different.  On the mat it carries hints and inferences of "Yoda-hood" and "Jedi Knight-ism" and is therefore somewhat "Magical" and "Ninja-like".  It has a whole "other-worldly-ness" to it and therefore has nothing to do with life in the corporate world.

The seduction can, in some instances, cause the player to stop trying to learn new material, stop doing difficult things such as highly advanced or complex kata, can inhibit his desire to do the impossible such as becoming a truly competent randori expert.  After all; he's already gotten to where he is and to begin the hard study-path again is to take on new challenges that he may not be up to and is to also imply that he really doesn't know as much as he thinks he does.  He begins to engage in a bit of "denial".

Engage Internal Dialogue .............. "I'm good enough at randori now.  Heck.  I can already man/woman handle everyone in the dojo except Sensei and maybe one or two others.  I already can do all the basic kata better than everyone else.  I'm already Sensei' uke a lot of the time.  I'm tired and I'm going home and taking every Saturday off.  I really don't want to get to class early to do extra training and I have a cold beer waiting at the house so why stay after class?" ............ Dis-engage Internal Dialogue

It's easy to get lazy and enjoy the adulation of being the BMOM (Big Man On the Mat) aka BDOT (Big Deshi On the Tatami). 

It's easy to not do the hard work of hour after hour after hour of tough and tiring practice once you (he) becomes relatively competent (as compared to others of the same rank) or extremely superior (in ability) as compared to others of lesser rank. 

It's easy to begin to coast and once you start to coast it is admittedly difficult to get ginned back up and start that trek up the mountain again.

It's easy to rationalize it when you look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I'm good enough already for now.  I'll think about doing more hard work next year.  After all, I really don't feel good about it when I'm doing kata and Sensei comes over and starts correcting me.  It makes me look dumb in front of the White Belts and I makes me feel bad because after all ..... my fundoichi doesn't stink and besides, how much more can Sensei tell me that I don't already know or can't discover on my own."

Think Fred knows he's saying this to himself?  Likely not.  That's how deceptive self-deception can be.  It's subliminal and so internalized that without knowing it we can run this thru' our heads everyday and never really be aware of it.  (Go study Transactional Analysis sometime if you really want to understand the concepts behind internal tapes.)

It's all too easy to lose sight of the path, lose sight of the big picture, lose sight of the possibilities, lose sight of what you intended to become when you started.

As you rise up in rank your horizons should be placed further out, not close in.  You should understand how much more there is to learn, not become satisfied with how little you actually know.

Reaching your current "high rank" is supposed to open your eyes and cause you to look up at a horizon that may not be totally clear   ......... not hood your eyes and cause you to lower your gaze because what you can see is both clear and focused.

So get refocused and re-discover what matters on the mat ............. or quit.

Aikido players and Bushi always move forward. 

They don't stand still because it's the easy path.

Even if you are physically past the ability to take 1,000 ukemi you can still move thru' new waza without force or falls, you can still learn light randori, write treatise on Aiki, be productive.

But standing in place  without forward movement or acting hesitant (as if you have a prior appointment) when Sensei says "Time to work" is not acceptable and is ........... not the "Way".

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

Aikibudo Kancho

Aikibudokan, Houston, TX

December 28, 2011