Friday, March 27, 2009

I Don't Know

Sensei Dan Lutsey of Shorei Kempo made a nice comment on what he had re-emphasized to him during Shihan Dean's seminar. This is that when facing an assailant on the street you really do not know what they are going to do and you have to keep your ego in check...or at least have a balance of confidence and caution. This 'I don't know what is going to happen' mind set is important to analyze as Martial Artists. Yes, we don't know what the other person is going to do...and to be honest with most of us don't even know what we are going to do.

Those of you who have been practicing the arts for awhile, I am sure have had beginners come up to you and ask, "If someone tries to punch you in the jaw (or kick you or choke you) what would you do?" My answer is usually, "I don't know". And they look at me disappointed because I didn't give them a clear cut pat answer. I answer this way because I really don't know. Self-defense is not a conscious ego-controlled logical step-by-step reactive answer to an unprovoked attack. It can't is too slow. Self-defense is a holistic ego-less subconscious response based on specific training that generalizes to multiple scenarios. Huh? Can't believe that just came out of my head.

What this means is that we really cannot know how we will react or respond in any given situation because there are too many variables that come into play. In many cases these situations will never repeat themselves exactly. I don't know what I would do if someone were to punch at me or try to kick me. I do know something will happen, but odds are "I" am not going to be doing it. Again, those of you who are skilled and do some form of Chi Sao or Kakie know you can't do this with a step by step mind set. It is a flow and 'listening' with the arms/body/spirit that needs to be practiced... and if you are like me many times you surprise yourself by the 'blocking' or 'intercepting' that is happening and you are not doing it. It simply gets done.

In Zen, we talk about having this "I don't know mind" and value it as extremely important to recognize and rest in. It is the Beginner's Mind that Suzuki Roshi spoke of. As Martial Artists I believe we need to trust our "I don't know mind" as well as our training. When we do there is nothing we need to worry about in the face of an attack. I love "I don't know mind" because it is a nice place to rest and relieves me from having to know all the answers.

Oh, well. I guess that is enough rambling for a Friday evening.

Be Well,

1 comment:

  1. Summed up nicely, the "I don't know" response that seems to baffle others. The survival instinct is strong and your body flees or attacks without your permission. I see instinct as an intellect, it has its logic. Through training you add "resources" to that instinctual response. And you meditate upon it, because, after all, you are a martial artist.