Armor! Or not.
Recently one of my old Quiet Storm black belt students arrived at the dojo requesting an opportunity, as he put it, to complete his training. I had not seen him for many, many years. He said he traveled through several other martial disciplines in that time frame. The request was for more than just the physical.
He wanted to know how to solve a perplexing problem. How to achieve that allusive quality known as peace of mind.
Our conversation drifted from our history together to going over his personal history to his ways of dealing with opposition and resistance to peaceful coexistance. In other words he constantly found himself sizing up possible adversaries whether they were openly aggressive or not. He was always evaluating how he would deal with the individuals around him if violence were to break out. He had been in several fights since he left The Quiet Storm many years ago.
The description of his lifestyle showed me that he is constantly on guard, always wondering about an attack, never relaxing for a moment. In my first few comments I described the proper usage of the 4 principles we utilize in Aikido and how they must practiced in everyday life while off the mat as well as during training. Then I took it a step further.
I mentioned how I stopped wearing a protective groin cup while sparring during the last four years of my active involvement teaching Tae Kwon Do. I did that because I didn't wear one on the street and I needed to train the way I dressed on those streets. I had to learn to deal with protecting my entire organism. I pointed out that I was also training in Aikido during those last 4 or 5 years.
That was the period in which I transitioned to a new understanding of one of life's most interesting phenomenons. Namely this: Life evolves and grows, it takes back and comes back or reflects back at us just what we expect of it.
The way I taught Quiet Storm practitioners, they developed a protective means of defense I call "armor" in order to cope with the physical world. That was primarily because we fought, and fought hard, not all the time, but most of the time. Our defense was a strong and aggressive offense which worked very well.
In those days it was not unusal for several males to walk into a karate school and challenge the instructor or students to a fight. It happened at many schools throughout the United states, but especially in California. It never happened in our school because whenever someone walked in with that certain swagger and stood in the doorway glaring around, I would simply call any two students to the middle of the floor, have them bow to me, bow to each other and free fight. I usually turned away and walked over to my senior student for a little quiet conversation while the fight was going on. After a few minutes, the transgressors, with a much different expression on their faces would look at each other, turn around and leave and never return. Well, every once in a great while one of them might come back to join, but that was very rare. After a few years of this the Chester grapevine was full of talk about those Quiet Storm people being crazy because they fought for real in that school. After a while they stopped coming in that way.
But getting back to my old student, I spoke to him of other things; Of growth, life changes and a new way of looking at life…
As you grow older you grow weaker and that armor grows heavier. My new way of thinking was to lighten the load. What changed? Take off the armor! Face life the way you were born.
For me, the first thing to go was the groin cup, then I dropped my armor. My realization was simply this: The most powerful weapon in the universe is the human mind and the most powerful force in the universe is love.
I've not had to defend myself in all that time. Neither mentally nor physically.
The question has been asked, do you live in a fundamentally friendly universe or a fundamentally hostile universe? How you answer this question dictates whether or not you can safely remove your armor.
If you can believe, you can achieve. For me no other defense is necessary nor desired. My expectations have changed.
ONE RESPONSE TO " ARMOR OR NOT! "
Mark Yerger says:
July 6th, 2011 at 11:30 am e
That really hit home with me.
For the first 40 years of my life, I have been very tense. This tenseness was my "armor". Fight or Flight. Always ready for any altercation.
Years ago when I was training, in the course of a regular conservation we were having, you asked me my age. When I replied 34, you commented, "Man!!! 34!!! You are still a baby!! You start to really grow up when you get to 40!!"
That little conversation has stayed with me ever since.
Now at 43, a father and a husband, I feel like I am getting lighter on a "spiritual" level…my armor is slowly leaving me. I am not tensed up and ready for a fight like I used to be.
Whatever comes at me I will decide what to do at that moment--with my mind first.