So why did I start this thread?
Well for one, I wanted to make it clear that we ALL wear Fruit of the Looms - no matter how much training and experience we get. And the more I know and learn, the more humble I've learned to become. It's just ignorant making one's ability out to be anything more than being just a little better, smarter, and safer than you were before you put all the time in. But nobody's Superman, and we all have something to learn.
Plus... I have no shame.
It's been 15 days now. The black eye is mostly gone. The stitches came out after 5 days, and the cut is barely noticeable. The scar follows the natural path of my eyebrow. Just like the stupid thing I did on Main Street in Louisville, that also was a bit of dumb luck. And after all... any scars will make this
face look better.
But what else?
Indeed this was about mindful vs. mindless mind. They are two entirely different states of mind. Each has a purpose. Each is useful in very specific circumstances. And each has some pretty severe drawbacks in the wrong situation.
My oldest son is the classic example of where mushin (no minded mind) is a problem. He gets into a class and after about 15 minutes, his mind has drifted into mental nothingness. We tested him, and he's sort of like that MC Escher drawing - neither fish nor foul.
He's not classically ADD, and not fully "normal." He's "just a dreamer." And we're all entitled to be weird in our own ways, so long as we find ways to compensate.
Drifting into no-minded mind isn't a good thing when you're trying to learn calculus. But if you're Einstein, well there's a time for that. Folks once measured EEG activity on him, hoping themselves to be inspired by something possibly unique about his brain. They found out he could do integral calculus in the alpha state (e.g. mushin). Only when he encountered a new problem did he pop into attentiveness. Meanwhile, he could just pop into "the zone" and crank stuff out without a lot of thought. Literally no less!
If Einstein can do integral calculus in mushin, well maybe a few gifted martial artists can fight bad guys in the same. That's the Platonic ideal, anyhow. The reality unfortunately is often very different.
When I teach concepts and make corrections in karate class, it's necessary for the student to get into a mindful state of mind. When they're making corrections and you want them NOT to keep repeating that same ^*@#$ @#$#!!!! mistake they keep doing again and again, you MUST get them into a mindful state of mind. You must have them think through the changes, and pay close attention to the detail. You must have them do this many times, until it begins to get automatic. THEN (I tell them) they can go into auto pilot, and practice the movements (correctly) the approximately 1000 times it takes before it's internalized to any reasonable degree.
So we see that a mindful mind has its uses in the karate class. And guess what? It's also pretty much automatic whenever you're in a new area. I was explaining what I had done to myself to one of my older sisters, who by the way has been head of personnel for several large (and well known) companies. She started rattling off the reasons why I had done it, telling me of course what I already knew. But she was spot on. There was the new city, and my dad in the hospital, and my number 1 Richmond karate student being struck by a bad illness, and trying to raise my family in another city, and a new job, and working late on a Saturday night in the office in a downtown area, and getting to experience Louisville city on a Saturday night, etc., etc. And before I knew it, I had developed physical and psychological tunnel vision. I was so into the process of new information input and savoring the moment, that I had completely lost the "scatter vision" of the perfect no-minded mind (mushin). So I walk down the street admiring this beautiful dog along with everything else on my mind, and there was just no way that my peripheral vision was going to see that pole that I had so foolishly walked into.
And no, I did not hurt the light pole.
Those beautiful Main Street street lamps are about 30 foot tall and made of iron. If a Ford F150 ran into one, I think the pole would win.
So when we practice martial arts in my dojo, I talk a lot about the need to develop BOTH mindful and no-minded mind. Each has a function; each needs to be optimized.
Here's the thing. We can spent all our time chanting Oommmm
after eating granola, and do Sanchin after Sanchin until our mind is happily drifting into nothingness. We can convince ourselves that we've got it down. Nope...
Nobody bothah me! I take karate from Jhoon Rhee.
Call USA-1000 today!!!
Many of us - who haven't done our homework - similarly convince ourselves that we have what it takes to handle life when the samurai jumps out from behind the bushes. But reality can be very different.
For one... I'm re-reading Rory's Meditations on Violence
now. It's a fun read for plane flights. In it he talks about how "typical" fights start and end quickly, and how one person often gains (and keeps) the advantage very early on. Good warriors and nasty predators know this, and take advantage of the elements of surprise and distraction. What is "The Wolfhound and The Street Lamp" in my everyday silly life is The Distraction and The Bad Guy in an assault or a "Shock and Awe" military operation. The perp WANTS you to be mindful - of something other than you. This is also one of the oldest games in the book for pickpockets as well. One guy does the bump, and the other does the snatch. They work as a team, and you never know what hit you until it's too late.
And for another... We'd all LIKE to think that years and years of training of our mushin in kata alone
will prepare us for when we face The Grim Reaper
But will it? I won't go as far as some who discount training and reason totally. Even my friend Rory does this in his book, and I have to call him on it. He says experience is so much more important BECAUSE he has so damned much of it. Meanwhile... I've had damn little, and find (much to my surprise) that in some self-defense encounters you really CAN get it right. And you wouldn't have if you hadn't had the training and the good mind.
You're an absolute fool if you haven't done your homework on the neurophysiology of extreme states of neurohormonal stimulation. Me? That was my systems physiology training, and I've had years in the dog lab to induce these states pharmacologically.
To the point, "tunnel vision" is what we don't want when the predator or (much worse yet) predatorS approach us. But tunnel vision - like poo - happens when things go very wrong. And if you're not aware of it and/or don't compensate for it, you're putting yourself at risk in a bad self-defense situation.
Seisan by the way teaches us to "scan the horizon", as do several other traditional kata (including my Fuzhou Suparinpei). If you don't understand the physiology of neurohormonal extremes, you won't have a clue what the choreographers were trying to communicate to you. Three Sanchin thrusts in three directions after taking out the bad guy for WHAT REASON??? (Never mind the extra two no-shoken shokens before you get up.) Ooohhh...
Anyhow... Hope you enjoyed my own Meditations on Stupidity