During Friday night class I was partnered up with Jimmy. We worked on our technique but it seemed something was wrong with Jimmy. I stopped for a moment and asked if he was ill, he told me that he was fine, just tired. We went on with the training but Jimmykept struggling with things.
Sensei who had been watching us walked over to us, took us apart in the corridor and asked; ‘What’s up Jimmy you look very absent today.’ Jimmy had a sad look in his eye and replied: “Sorry sensei, I have a problem which I can’t put out of my mind. It distracts me.”
Sensei thought for a minute and said: ‘I don’t know what your problem is and you don’t need to tell me but it helps to put it into perspective in relation to the whole picture.’ Jimmy first looked at me then back at sensei. “Can you be a bit more specific sensei?”
Sensei replied: “Let me show you after I have everyone lined up.” Jimmy protested: ‘But my issue has no relevance to what we do here sensei.’
Sensei smiled: ‘It has relevance to what we do Jimmy’. Sensei stopped class and had everyone lined up. After he picked a sheet with round shaped stickers out of his bag he walked over to the window.
Sensei said: “In the old days the martial arts had a lot of relevance in the daily lives of the practitioners. People were living with the constant threat of dying an instant violent death. These days we call ourselves civilized and live a more peaceful life. Some argue that martial arts lost their relevance to today. However there are many good life lessons if you want to see and learn.”
Sensei pointed to Rob: “Rob can I borrow you for a second?” Rob walked over to Sensei. Sensei pasted one of the stickers on the window saying ‘the window cleaner will hate me for this, Ok, Rob what do you see?” Rob said “A yellow sticker.”
“What else do you see?” Asked Sensei, to which Jimmy replied, “A window, a glass pane in a wooden frame.”
Ok sensei said, “Jimmy what happened?” Jimmy said: “Rob’s attention is caught by the sticker sensei.”
“Exactly. Rob’s attention is caught by the sticker which disables him to look trough the window to see the whole picture. It’s similar to when you drive and a bird drops his waste right onto your windscreen. Although your window’s surface is many times bigger than the surface of the droppings your attention goes to guess what? It is distracting and it seems you are looking at the surface of the window instead of looking trough. Same thing happens with mirrors. When accidentally spatter some toothpaste on the mirror when you brush your teeth you start looking at the mirror instead of into the mirror.
Life is very similar. At the moment you have a problem your mind is occupied by it until you solve it or put it into perspective in relation to the whole picture. Just like the small sticker on the big window and the bird droppings on the windscreen.”
“In the martial arts we often face problems which we solve in order to protect ourselves. Some arts say to keep doing what you are doing regardless of what the opponent is doing. It doesn’t mean that you keep launching headshots at a person that has already covered up his head. It means that you need to keep an eye on the whole picture and have to put everything that happens into perspective related to that picture.”
“Also being grabbed by the wrist makes many people concentrate on the wrist like Bob concentrated on the sticker. They feel limited and will start trying to free their wrist. The limits are imposed by your own mind. At work I have a colleague who knows about my training, he is quite big and strong and he asked me what will you do when I grab your wrist? I told him that I would whack him in the head on which he replied: how can you punch me if I got hold of your wrist? On which I answered that I have two hands.”
Everybody started laughing.
Sensei waited for a moment till the dojo went quiet again.
So remember that whether it’s a restriction during training, bad words by your boss at work or shit on your windscreen always put things into perspective of the big picture… However, in case of the sticker on the window it’s easier to remove it.