Sunday, 8 July 2012

Pre-Conflict Training #2

Cheng Man Ching


n the Chinese and Japanese sword arts, the practitioner and the sword become one.

The practitioner’s relaxed and open mind allows the nature of the sword to thrive. In a sword fighter’s hand, the sword feels alive; it seems to move on its own. There is a partnership at work - the sword fighter doesn’t “choke off” or “throttle” the sword; the sword doesn’t dominate the sword fighter. They are exquisitely balanced.

Many warriors took the same approach to other areas of life. The great Tai Chi master, Cheng Man Ching, practised Tai Chi, traditional Chinese medicine, calligraphy, poetry and painting. He referred to these disciplines as “The 5 Excellences”.

Budo - Way of the Warrior


There is a deep association between the Japanese sword and poetry - as well as calligraphy. In the world of the Chinese sword, the energy and mind-set applied to the sword is also applied to calligraphy.

There is a tradition in Chinese martial arts of the “scholar warrior” - a man or woman who excels not only in the martial way but in other disciplines as well (teaching, healing, writing, music, government, spirituality…). Knowledge - as it is attained and developed - and the scholar warrior become one.

An excellent book on the topic of the "scholar warrior"

This is what I encourage anyone to do when gathering information, especially for an upcoming meeting, project review, exam or interview. Don’t leave the information outside, just to be manipulated. Absorb the information with a deeply relaxed state of mind. Let the information and you become one.

In the first post of this series, I suggested forms of meditation as a way to prepare for an upcoming conflict or stressful situation. When organizing information to prepare for a meeting, you don’t have to sit in the position of a full lotus.

Train to think and act in more of a “moving Zen” fashion.

An outstanding book on traditional Karate training


For example, if you’re gathering the facts and figures for an upcoming meeting, do practise  ½ hour of sitting or standing meditation per day - but also carry that open, mushin state of mind into your actual preparatory work. Relax, allow the material to live (like the sword). Train with the material as you would balance a sword in your hand. Don’t stress the material out; allow it to become you.

Mystical? Impractical? How do elite snipers work with their weapons? That’s life and death!

Knowledge as alive and flexible as an Aikijutsu technique!


Another example - the job interview.

Your CV and experience should be strong, valid - and flexible. The information you’ve gathered on the company - and the company’s needs - should be part of you. But most importantly, the interviewer is going to profile you, from “within the box” and from “outside the box”.

She’ll steer the same questions toward you but from various angles, much like a good trial lawyer. Like the techniques of an Aikijitsu practitioner, your answers should be centered, relaxed and flexible enough for any style of questioning. That’s how you show confidence, the martial arts way!

Lastly - facing an upcoming exam.

Please do not cram! Cramming is like stuffing bad material into you from the outside. It’s a stressful way to prepare, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, the exam is going to be stressful…look how I’m building up the stress!

The mind tenses up. Gone is the flexibility you need to adapt to any type of question. Breathing becomes shallow; the heart rate goes up; headaches develop; cramps (both in the body and the mind); sugar levels rise…

What you will develop is “information vertigo”. You won’t be able to see the forest from the trees.

Train both mind and body before an exam. Allow the information in. Meditate on the information. Study in an alert but relaxed state - like a sword fighter.

I hope that these ideas help you in some way to prepare for an upcoming conflict or stressful situation. The next post in this series will address conflict at the time that it happens.

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