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Ready, Willing and Listening?

I recently asked in our To-Shin Do Facebook group, what training question are you trying to get answered at this year’s Ninja Festival. This question is something An-shu Hayes is constantly reminding us to have so that we take responsibility for our training and keep progressing. But a conversation I had with some students made me contemplate what happens when you get an answer, do you actually ‘get it’?

I have lost count of how many times people have told me that they understand it intellectually, however they just can’t physically do it. I’m sorry, that means you don’t understand it. There are times when a student is just not ready for an answer. This art takes time, training time, not how long ago you started training, it’s how much time you have put in training with an instructor and then on your own that creates change. Dirt time I heard it called in Dayton.

Then you must be willing to change. Studies have shown that our brains seek consistency. Often when we are given an answer we try to frame it to match what we already believe. We literally only see what we want to. To affect change in your understanding you must be conscious of your habits and biases and then be willing to work to change them. Not an easy task.

And last you must listen to an answer. I often pop quiz my black belt students by asking them “what did I just say?” The answers make it very clear where their focus was when I was talking. To understand this art, you must be able to focus.

When a teacher is speaking, they are limited to language that must come out of their mouth with the words in a sequential order. However, it is the combination of those words into one concept that the teacher is attempting to convey. If you are not listening or stop when you hear the words you want and think I know this, the lesson is lost.

Slow down your brain, don’t be in a rush to answer or judge what you hear and just listen. Truly listen and understand what is being said before you react.

Were we talking about training?


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