Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Following the difficult path

I find it hard to be told what to do. My daughters would probably find that a bit rich as I dish it to them (but they are under 6!), but I think it's hard for most people to accept criticism or a comment which flatly tells them: you are wrong!

I was faced with this is in iaido training this week. A sensei pointed out (in a very pleasant way I must stress) that what I was doing was fundamentally wrong. As I have already mentioned this smarted a little, but I embraced it. I had to! I knew if I was to get better: if my technique was to improve I had to heed sensei ("one who has gone/lived before". The term seems extremely well placed here. The implication is that this person has been there, done it, fallen over, got back up again and been allowed to wear the t-shirt). So I listen to these guys: they have a lot to say which I can learn from!

This also has implications for life in general. As a young man I tended towards the path of least resistance. I studied hard, don't get me wrong! Got good grades, future was bright and I'm content in my place. But frankly if it was a bit too difficult I'd find a shortcut. Or a way out, or do it, but not quite fully. But I know that if I don't do it properly it'll come back and bite me later. Maybe I'll have to redo it again (properly!) or in not choosing the hard path I won't have learned! So this may seem abstract but if I give you a couple of examples, it may be clearer what I mean....

I enjoy cycling home and sometimes my route takes me either up a hill or round the back. I usually end up slogging up the hill because I know it'll help my conditioning, make me sweat (and if nothing else feel virtuous! :-) It makes me stronger thanks to that little bit of effort! And I feel good after doing it. If the job is worth doing- it's worth doing properly!

Of course there is a counterpoint to this: why stand up when you can sit down? And yes of course efficiency of movement is essential in the martial arts. In an ever developing and inquisitive mind, though I find it helps to push myself in order to improve within training. Ask those difficult and embarrassing questions because if I don't....I'll never know the answer! Push myself a bit harder because if I don't, my technique will never improve. If you feel tired and want to sit down for a cuppa, do 5 more repetitions and see how it makes a difference!

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