This year my Festival session was about each moment being a new beginning. In fact, the entire Festival theme was “Ninja Reborn”, for several reasons, including marking our dedication to using technology and the internet to even more effectively spread To-Shin Do across the globe. It is an important concept to me personally, as well as for creating effective decision-making and conflict resolution skills in our martial art. As I trained and coached in the other Festival sessions over the weekend, I was struck once again by just how vital this concept is.
Our brains, our thoughts, hang out in one of three ‘time zones’: the past, the future, or on rare moments, right in the present. Just reading this some of you might be reflecting back on your Festival experience, or thinking about what next year’s will be like. Both directions are important to pay attention to, but it is the now that is deserving of most of our attention.
Learning to make decisions under pressure is an important part of any realistic self-defense program, both for dealing with physical confrontations as well as every day challenges. But we don’t just want to do something. We want to do the right thing. We don’t just want to know there is a problem. We want to know exactly what the problem is, so we know what our defense needs to be.
As we all know, if the problem changes, the solution has to change.
This means we have to be in the now. If we’re working on a grab and punch attack, I might start by defending against the hook punch. But what if that grab turns into a shove somewhere along the way? If I’m still trying to solve the hook punch problem when it has really become a shove off balance problem, then I’m just the fraction of a moment behind. I’m off balance. Then I try to solve the shove problem, but its too late for that too. Still the wrong problem. I’m already off-balance. I’m fighting the past. Pointless.
Learning to deal with the now is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my training. And I’m still working on it.
I was struck at Festival by how often I saw historical principles come to life to deal with modern problems. Every once and awhile I saw an experienced person forget and try to focus too much on the historical answer, even though we weren’t dealing with a historical problem. That was exciting too, both for me and those students, because of the reminder to be in this moment, to be sure to be solving the current problem.
The ninja always tried to be on the cutting edge of technology. To be using the electronic technology of today is exiting. But the taijutsu principles are still cutting edge technology. Being in the moment, and solving the current problem instead of hanging on to the past, or trying to predict the future, is still cutting edge technology for our mind. Because it will always be now. Every ‘now’ is an opportunity to re-invent, to re-engage, every ‘now’ is an exciting ‘rebirth’ in our lives. At Festival I saw many, many people who are different now because they attended.
I don’t know exactly how to measure the epiphany per square foot that happens at Festival, but I know that there has never been a more exciting time to be a ninja. There has never been a better time to apply these timeless principles to our lives, to be a little more effective today, now, than we were just a moment ago.
I look forward to seeing all of you next year, and all of the wonderful lessons we get while dealing with the now of 2015.