Consider It

The two words “consider it” happen to make up one of my favorite English-language phrases. I was once asked what was required in order to be considerate – my answer was “consider it.”

Taido/Blog Gets Sick

So, foregoing any kind of clever segue, a few months ago, I lost the ability to do anything at all to Taido/Blog. Obviously, I have now corrected the issue, but the nature of the actual problem is still somewhat mysterious to me – it’s something semi-technical that falls under the general rubric of “things I’ve chosen not to bother with learning to understand.” Luckily for me, an upgrade of my WordPress build pretty much took care of things.

I had intended to write this as a simple blurb to say “sorry about the lack of updates – I had a good excuse,” but after rereading that first paragraph, I realize that it’s not actually all that good of an excuse. Things I’ve chosen not to bother with learning to understand? Come to think of it, that’s a really lame excuse and exactly the kind of thinking I claim to be working against with Taido/Blog.

Choosing To Ignore Reality

But. If I take the time to consider it, I can find lots of examples of this willful ignorance in my life, and I have to admit it’s not something of which I’m extremely proud. Not to point the finger, but I’m willing to bet big money that readers of this site would also find a disturbing number of behaviors and attitudes with which they allow themselves to simply get by – things they could easily change.

I’m not referring here to social issues like the rampant homelessness in our urban centers, the horrible outlook for future ecology, or the deplorable state of politics and commerce. I’m talking about things easily within our grasp. Obviously, personal habits are ripe for careful examination. What do you allow yourself to get away with when you know you could do better? Do you sometimes “cheat” just a little bit? Do you allow yourself maybe just a little too much leeway when you’re trying to accomplish a task or goal? I know I do. In the five minutes it’s taken me to type this post so far, I’ve already noticed the following habitual cheats:

  • not shaving on the weekends, even though it makes monday mornings just a little bit more of a pain in the ass
  • not sticking to my scheduled workout plans despite having the time to do so
  • neglecting to practice guitar modal patterns even though it’s probably the best way to rebuild my technique
  • drinking a beer instead of a cup of coffee
  • drinking a cup of coffee instead of a glass of water
  • eating a cookie instead of drinking a glass of water
  • the above-mentioned things I’ve chosen not to bother with learning to understand, such as basic soldering technique, personal financial management, Japanese polite speech and anything above junior-high-level kanji, why my girlfriends cry so much, how to sew, and exactly how the hell the software that supports Taido/Blog actually works.

A lot of the above just comes down to my personal level of self-discipline, but for someone who considers himself to be a student and seeker of applicable knowledge, the existence of that last category really makes me uncomfortable. I realize this now, only a few days after Anthony mentions my name in a post about “people who can think” alongside Richard Feynman. I feel that this category exists, in part, because I’m aware that there are other people whose knowledge I can employ without having to develop my own. But can we really rent understanding? I would venture not.

Willful Ignorance In Taido

Of course, this question is also applicable to Taido. How often do we simply take at face value the basic skills and concepts that make up our art? Too often, I think. I had a discussion after the Tama Taikai last weekend with Watanabe Sensei from the Takushoku Uni Taido Club about reasons for blocking at jodan rather than chudan in sentaizuki. We discussed this for about ten minutes as we ate and drank. I’m not trying to make myself sound like an intellectual badass, but I wonder how many people actually have taken the time to consider where to block in sentai and why. And there are thousands of such details about Taido (40 years’ worth of development) which we could benefit from analyzing.

Now I’m not suggesting that we should make life hell on our instructors by questioning every detail of every movement they try to teach us. What I’m really saying is that we should consider these things for ourselves rather than simply relying on the knowledge we receive from others to bring us true understanding. Perhaps it’s impossible to think deeply about every detail, and I’m not suggesting that it’s necessary or desirable. Much of the time spent in attempting such an exercise would be better spent actually practicing movements. However, it must be said that the more we practice various modes of thought, the more efficient and effective we become in applying them to various problems and ideas.

So after spending ten minutes this week discussing one seemingly very specific issue about sentaizuki, I have learned one thing, yes, but I have also improved my capability to learn similar things. In dissecting the reasons for blocking at a certain level in a certain technique, I added to my set of mental tools. Specifically, I’ve increased my understanding of the entire sentai family of movement and of blocking technique. Both of these could potentially be applied to any number of applications in Taido.

So I guess the point of this whole post is just to ask you to be aware of those aspects of your Taido practice of which you are engaging in willful ignorance. Maybe spend a few minutes thinking about how that affects your experience of Taido and contribution to Taido. Of course, any value judgments are yours to make. I’m simply asking you to consider it. And now I’m off to learn more about my blogging software.

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