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Getting Hooked

In our Black Belt training we have many strategies and principles that rely on ‘hooking’ our attacker, using their emotions or their expectations against them so that they almost can’t help but deliver the very thing to us we need to defeat them.

While it may not always implicitly say so in the ‘kata descriptions’ each of these principles also warn us that we could fall victim to these same strategies, and we need to train to not to get easily hooked ourselves. Such lessons are arguably at least as important as the physical skills. They are also harder to learn and easy to ignore. Worse, it is easy to trick yourself into thinking you ‘own’ these skills, an even more subtle and devious kind of ‘hook’.

Good training makes it less likely we get hooked. It also gives us the vital skill of recognizing sooner those times we are getting hooked. And make no mistake, we all do. We all have our buttons, that when pushed will make it more likely for us to respond with anger. We all fall victim to our own expectations and biases from time to time. The good news is, there is even more opportunity in life to practice not getting hooked then are to practice not getting punched. Watch for them. Watch for the times you feel an angry and automatic response starting to bubble up, whether toward a motorist who cut you off, an offensive internet troll, or a rude person next to you in line somewhere. Watch for those times when you assumed something, but assumed wrong. It’s okay if you don’t recognize the ‘hook’ until after you’ve already responded. The more you start to recognize, the sooner the recognition will happen. It’s also okay to give an angry response when angered. The goal is just to avoid letting the other person dictate our response. Giving an aggressor the very response they were looking for is rarely an effective strategy.

This year’s Festival theme ‘Visceral Training’ will provide some wonderful experiences to train in ways perhaps you haven’t before. The more visceral the training, the more emotion you face, the more stress you are under, the easier it is to find yourself being the one hooked, the one led along and providing the energy that creates your own defeat. Start practicing now, and you’ll be even more aware of what happens on the inside under this visceral training … you’ll get even more out of this year’s Festival experience.

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