Last time I spoke to the idea of the relevance of martial arts in our culture today. Specifically I addressed the physical aspect of the first person attacker…our self…with respect to heart disease in particular. To sum up we can be just as much a danger to ourselves physically due to lack of exercise and poor diet choices. Through studying martial arts we work to apply a level of moral conduct whereby we intentionally engage in and/or avoid that will perpetuate our training long term…lifestyle changes for a lifetime of training.
In this piece I want to address Bullying. Now, I am not speaking physical attacks. Of course we teach skills to deal with such situations. I am speaking more about conflict resolution of a non-physical nature. For example…dealing with verbal abuse, psychological manipulation and downright rudeness. We all have had experiences in our lives like this. Someone said something in an aggressive way in an attempt to belittle or control us. And we either lose our temper and go off or internalize it and suffer the emotional consequences. Neither of which serves us.
One aspect of learning in the martial arts is the concept of detachment; specifically to be free from bias by accepting things as they are so as to be emotionally indifferent to the situation. In other words when someone calls berates of belittles us we accept the fact it is happening and assign no emotion to it. We do not like it or dislike it…it is just happening and we respond in a way that removes emotion. When we become emotionally involved with what is happening we lose control…and when we lose our emotions in a conflict our opponent has an ally. From a self-defense aspect this means when someone throws a punch we respond to the punch…not the emotion behind it. When someone calls us a [email protected]#$%^&* we respond (or not) to the comment not the emotion behind it. This way our response…or defense…to the attack (physical or verbal) deals with what is happening in the moment rather than our perceived notion of the intention behind it.
An example of this is to respond to the verbal attack with something completely irrelevant.
Bully. “I cannot believe how stupid you are.”
Detached. “The walls in Spain are very tall.”
I got this from a blog post…here is the link for a full description.
Another one we use with the kids…good for adults too…is when someone calls you a name respond by saying, “Yeah…so?” Do this as many times as it takes for the 3rd grader…or the overgrown 3rd grader to realize that you are not going to be bothered by their name calling.
So this is all well and good when dealing with the second person attacker…what about the first person attacker? That voice inside our head that berates and belittles us just as much…often more so and is often more destructive. Detachment again. AAA Detachment. Acknowledge, Accept and Adapt.
When you realize that little voice is speaking again first Acknowledge it. Ignoring it does not help. We cannot go through life ignoring ourselves…I mean everywhere we go there we are! (Ha) What we can do is notice that the voice is speaking. Then accept that it is speaking and that it is saying what it is saying without tying any negative emotion to what it is saying. Then we Adapt. If what it is saying is not in our best interest then we change what it is saying…after all it is us saying it…we can choose what we want to say to ourselves.
Why not keep it positive.
Emotions are a good thing. But when we lose control of them in the moment as a reflexive response to a verbal attack we give our strength away. Detachment helps us stay in control and insures the likelihood of a more favorable outcome.
So, again, YES! I think martial arts is very relevant!