Blue Belt Avoidance Concepts

Avoid Negative Stimuli

There are a truckload of things a person can do that lessen their motivation and spirit. You want to train yourself to avoid these negative influences and stimuli and to substitute more positive encouragements instead.

One very common negative stimuli is the feedback we nearly all experience when we make an error. I see this in students all the time when they are performing a skill or working on a Kata. If they make an error they may grimace, roll their eyes and throw their hands into the air. It is clear they are frustrated by their inability to perform some aspect of a skill accurately or to their liking. It’s an automatic negative feedback loop that often causes them to feel somehow inadequate, incapable, or angry. When this occurs I try to point out that making an error should not be thought of as a negative thing. It is in reality a very positive thing.

When you make an error you have identified an area for improvement. That’s very positive. Now you can work to make that aspect of your skills better. In reality the martial arts are learned primarily through a never ending sequence of errors. You are shown some new skill, you try it, but it does not go well. You make errors. You are shown ways to improve your movements. You get better, but make other errors. The cycle continues until you have become very capable with the new skill. That cycle is present in everything you learn in the martial arts. I would argue it is the primary learning model. Embrace it rather than let it drag you down.

This type of negative stimuli is present in nearly everything we, as humans, do. We constantly question what we have done, what others think of us, what we might have said differently, and what we should or should not do at our next social encounter. While soul-searching can be beneficial in the right context, this type of negative stimuli may also be less than productive, particularly if you allow yourself to think that somehow you are less than the ideal person because of it. When you find yourself thinking this way about a skill, the martial arts, or life in general, it is time to change the subject and look for something more positive to pursue. Do your best to avoid this type of negative stimuli, except for those rare cases where you feel the need to consider your behavior, future and life direction. Even then, consider these to be positive events and not negative stimuli. As with most things in the martial arts, thinking about things a little differently can have profound effects.

Avoiding Obstacles

If you find yourself in a situation where a conflict is likely or where one has already begun, you must note the location of any potential obstacles. Any such obstacles could hinder an escape, initiate a fall, or result in injury should you run or be thrown into them.

Obstacles you might wish to notice include stairs, furniture, structural support columns, walls, windows, other people, curbs, fences, swimming pools, toys, tools, rugs, planters, electronic equipment, and trash cans. The list is virtually unlimited and it is unlikely that you will notice every conceivable obstacle in your environment. But it can pay to notice as many obstacles as possible. This can provide you with a sense of where and how to move about in the local environment as a conflict ensues.

Naturally it can be to your advantage to avoid any obstacles and to help ensure that your opponent encounters as many as possible. This is really a case of noticing your local environment and using it, to the extent possible, to your advantage. At times you may even find it beneficial to encounter an object (such as a wall) because it provides you with leverage to better manipulate an opponent. In this case you will want to ensure that encountering an object does not cause you to become trapped between the object and your opponent.

Alcohol and Drug Use

What you elect to do when you are not in the Dojo is really none of our business (usually). We are not here to discourage you from consuming alcohol or taking any legal compound. But we are not here to encourage it either. Each individual should make their own decisions and choices in such matters. We take no position on them.

However, there are potential consequences from these practices that you must consider. If you consume alcohol or take certain drugs your cognitive skills, temperament, balance, and motor skills will likely be negatively impacted. You will not think as clearly as you would normally. You may have difficulty standing or walking properly. And you will not have the same speed and dexterity that you would in normal circumstances. This has been known and proven for perhaps thousands of years. It should come as no surprise to anyone.

Yet people still go out to a crowded bar, become quite inebriated, and then turn hostile, attempting to pick a fight with the first large person they encounter. It’s sad. There this person is, unable to balance properly, not thinking clearly, not able to control their motor functions well, and they want to fight. Good night, my friend.

There is usually not much risk if you are in this condition at home. It is quite another matter if you are behind the wheel of an automobile, in a crowded bar, or even walking home along the streets of a busy city. Now you, and perhaps others, are at significant risk. You will be virtually helpless to avoid any unexpected circumstance.

In the final analysis you are responsible for what you do. If you consume these substances then you need to ensure this is done in a responsible and rational way that limits any associated risks. Moderation needs to be considered if you are in a social setting. Abstinence needs to be ensured if you will be driving or operating machinery of any kind. You need to remain aware of your condition, current situation, surroundings, and future plans so that you do not place yourself or others in unwarranted peril.

Due to the factors involving judgment, temperament, balance, motor control, and responsibility we insist that students not come to the Dojo if they are impaired in any way by these substances. We do not wish to see you injured and we do not want an errant action on your part to injure another. You will be asked to stop training immediately if you are discovered to be impaired by such substances. We will ask the police or other relevant public agencies to become involved if we are concerned that you experiencing medical problems, will somehow represent a risk to others, or if we think you will get behind the wheel of a vehicle while you are impaired.

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