Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just One Of Those Days


No matter how well balanced you think you are there will always be moments when you just want to break something. Hearing tired aphorisms such as "Smile, and the world smiles with you" only causes you more aggravation on days like this. Everyone gets pissed. Strictly speaking of course we all process our own problems. The real issue isn't whether your conflicts are due to internal or external events, it's how we display ourselves to those who come into contact with us. So if you come off like a bellicose tyrant, the other guy takes it personally and this sets off a domino effect of sullenness.

You don't want to express lousy behavior in the dojo. It's antithetical to the respect and etiquette (rei) that's inherent in the martial arts. Has anyone witnessed the lack of respect and decency in American sports in recent years? When baseball hall of famer Yogi Berra traveled to Japan in the 50s he was astonished at the level of good sportsmanship that existed there. In one instance when a Japanese pitcher hit a batter with a wild pitch he ran off the mound to apologize to the player. Could you imagine that happening here? Bench clearing brawls, vehement arguments with referees and drunken spectators attacking players have become expected happenstances in sports. A hockey fight is considered as much a part of the game as scoring a goal. I'm still waiting for a hockey game to break out during a karate match.

So you're having a bad day? Glad to hear it; misery enjoys company. I'm having a bad day too, but instead of showcasing my indignation on the deck I intend to train hard to transmute these feelings of ill will that seem so justified. In psychology, sublimation is the term used to describe how we can take a despicable quality or predicament - in this case having a bad day - and transform it into something appreciable and worthwhile. Regardless of how irritable I've felt at the beginning of a class, I've always found that my spirits have lifted significantly by its end. Martial arts training as a therapeutic tool does work. It beats conventional therapy and is certainly a lot cheaper.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

Having a few weeds makes you a better gardner.

It's easy to be in harmony in the universe when everything is going your way. The test of your character comes when the universe seems to be conspiring against you.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

Bad behavior is rampant these days. Parents just aren't teaching their kids manners. Heck, so many of the parents don't even have manners themselves. We had a few ill mannered kids in our karate school and they realized that behavior was only going to bring them pain. They usually realized this as they were tumbling down the mat like a rag doll. Hey, whatever it takes to get the good behavior I guess.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Perpetual Beginner said...

One of the things that struck me when my kids were very young that I hadn't noticed before (though I'm sure it was happening), was the number of parents who would demand that their children be polite - in terms so rude that any adult would have smacked them for it. They were demanding polite behavior, yet modeling assholery. These were frequently the same parents who were gob-smacked at how polite my boys were. Yet I rarely gave any instructions on politeness, I simply was polite to my children.

I find the dojo is wonderful sublimation for moments when I just have to go hit something. I both leak off my anger and aggression, and learn how to fight effectively even when angry, which is no bad thing either.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Hack Shaft said...

I can think of nothing better to book-end a week like Sparring on Monday nights, and a good hard all-belts wake up class on Saturday morning.

Both make excellent release of daily stresses, and I'll be most grateful when I can return to them!

10:32 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Rick:

The test of your character comes when the universe seems to be conspiring against you.

I hear that. Here's Lincoln's take on character: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
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Miss Chris:

Parents just aren't teaching their kids manners. Heck, so many of the parents don't even have manners themselves.

Rotten kids are usually the product of bad role models in the parents. Pop culture doesn't help either.
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Perpetual Beginner:

...parents who would demand that their children be polite - in terms so rude that any adult would have smacked them for it. They were demanding polite behavior, yet modeling assholery.

Again, parents provide as role models for their kids. (Assholery - Is that a new clinical term? LOL!)
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Hack Shaft:

I can think of nothing better to book-end a week like Sparring on Monday nights, and a good hard all-belts wake up class on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning's a light class by me. By light I mean if 5 students show it's a lot. People tend to sleep late on the weekend I guess.

11:50 PM  
Blogger [Mat] said...

Hey John Sensei,

It's funny, because when I was around... 17 or so, I had a teacher in college. Long story short, he happened to be a karate teacher (shito-ryu) which I immediately dismissed at the time as being too popular to do. (ha, the irony)

Anyways, it was a "Conditionnement physique" class(body conditionning-Gym?).

At the beginning of the class, he asked me how I was doing. I started complaining about my roomates, lack of sleep, whatever.

When starting class, he said something very similar to what you just wrote. Telling a lesson about turning bad energy into good energy.

At the time, I immediately dismissed it and just trained. Thinking that he was a sour man who took what you gave him and threw it back at you to give example.

11 years later, I understand.

Perspective and experience are not things that can be brought at wal-mart, unfortunately. Last time I looked, there wasn't any on the shelves.

:-D

9:02 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Regardless of how irritable I've felt at the beginning of a class, I've always found that my spirits have lifted significantly by its end. Martial arts training as a therapeutic tool does work. It beats conventional therapy and is certainly a lot cheaper.
I've found the very same thing. The days I really dread going to class, because I'm too tired, physically or mentally or just grouchy from a long day, are often the days I'm most glad I went.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Blackbeltmama said...

This is the exact reason why my husband used to always dread it when I missed class. It does lift you up. Imagine my current lousy mood, considering I haven't been able to train since mid-October.

Nevermind, I won't bring you all down with me. I'll just have to live through all of you.

9:15 PM  
Blogger supergroup7 said...

I always leave my troubles, worries, and bad attitude with my shoes outside the dojo. The dojo is where I become someone who focuses on her training. I found that this mental setting has helped me keep a positive aspect to my training.

10:00 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Mat:

Perspective and experience are not things that can be bought...

True. Nothing teaches like experience.
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Steve:

The days I really dread going to class, because I'm too tired, physically or mentally or just grouchy from a long day, are often the days I'm most glad I went.

I can relate. In all my years of training, I've never once regretted going to a class.
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BBM:

This is the exact reason why my husband used to always dread it when I missed class. It does lift you up. Imagine my current lousy mood, considering I haven't been able to train since mid-October.

Three months - it's been that long? I've seen the recent pics of your bad knee, it does look like you're making nice progress. That's good news for you - and your husband!
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Mireille:

I always leave my troubles, worries, and bad attitude with my shoes outside the dojo.

I had an instructor who used to say "leave your baggage at the door" before training. It's sound advice and it's really the only way to go.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Silverstar said...

Funny John you post this when I have just experienced a bad day and am feeling more hostile than usual towards others (except you of course;)
Expressing your anger in a healthy way is indeed important and has not only created lots of great martial artists but also artists,actors and musicians. :)

7:55 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Silverstar:

Expressing your anger in a healthy way is indeed important and has not only created lots of great martial artists but also artists,actors and musicians. :)

Good analogy. Like method acting. And who's more temperamental than artists and musicians? Indeed, it's when they can't express themselves properly that we see a Van Gogh or Hemingway or Morrison.

12:11 AM  

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