Friday, September 23, 2011

Technique 2: The SMALL stuff

I can't remember who said it.  It might be Ushiro, or Musashi or Lao Tzu.  It goes: Consider trivial things deeply and significant things lightly.  I understand that now.  By understand, I don't mean that I know what it conveys.  I mean I've lived what it conveys.

I understood the words the first time I read them.  People have inclinations, predilictions, habits.  One of them is to dismiss small things and worry over large, far off things.  Like death.  Or being embarrassed.  When if you put some of that concern into small, everyday matters like eating right and speaking humbly, big matters would matter even less than they do.  Balance.

But those are all just words...

I like packing my gym bag.  I like ironing my gi.  I like taking pride in it and telling myself that just as I iron the folds out of the fabric so do I try to iron the kinks out of my karate - smooth out the flaws, the bumps, the creases.  I like paying attention to the details and packing the fabric, my books, my gloves, my towel, my water bottle.  And on the bus ride to work, I was proud that I didn't leave it to the last moment.  That I was responsible and diligent and disciplined...

Until I realized that I'd completely forgotten to pack my belt.

The irony was not lost on me.  That I could be so absorbed in the ritual of packing my bag and overlook the obvious.  Such a small thing, my belt.  But without it, everything else in my bag is just weight that I'm lugging around.  All the enormous things in my head that I was going to do in class today disappeared.   It all dissolved into nothingness...for I had forgotten the simple small detail of packing my belt.

On the contrary, for all the pride and respect that I showed Karate and my gi, I would do it even greater honor if I was mindful enough to remember my belt so that I could actually train.  The small things are what make big things possible.

I have a hole in my hand from today.  It was given to me by Peter Giffen.  He was doing the bunkai for NiSeiShi to me and to fully compromise me, he attacked a nerve in my hand as he pulled me down.  The target must have been half a centermetre squared between my thumb and index finger.  But the pain in my hand gave him more than enough time to break my posture downward.  That small extra motion made the big work of taking a person to the ground that much easier.

I'm beginning to see that the heart of karate is in these small details; every technique has at its heart a small window of opportunity to fill with these small details that compromise another person.  Once you've internalized the Stillpoint - the nugget of a technique, the key aspect, the Moment where you'll win or lose - it's just a matter of waiting for the opportunity and applying the details.

But to wait for the moment takes courage and patience.  To apply the details in the moment takes much practice.

And confidence that I'll find that Stillpoint when it counts demands total Commitment.

Small stuff.

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