Thursday, 8 April 2010

Climbing Higher

Whilst chatting with a friend on a recent seminar, he explained how he had trained in a wide collection of martial arts and systems, much like myself.
What struck me as different to my own martial arts journey however, was that he was searching for something specific, namely, skills geared totally towards street based self protection.
He’d followed a lot of the various “buzz” systems as and when they had appeared, gaining experience and instructor grades in each of them.
As the years passed, he would become disillusioned with each one and so, move onto the next revolutionary system that was in the limelight for being the most effective and most potent self defence system available.

What I found most refreshing though was his attitude towards the time he had spent studying, training, teaching and then moving away from each of those systems.

I, like you, was expecting to hear bitter and resentful comments towards the time, money and most likely, blood, sweat and tears, he had invested in learning these various systems, only to realize they didn’t offer what he was searching for, and to consequently have to move on and try again.

In fact, he was totally relaxed and comfortable with this investment. He saw this time spent as part of the journey. He didn’t see this as having chosen the wrong paths to follow, he actually felt that it was valuable effort spent in order to find out that it wasn’t the right path for him.

Almost as thought it was a journey of elimination. Learning and then casting aside the things he didn’t feel were right for him. Every system learned and then rejected was one less to choose from going forwards.

Now, I could quote Thomas Edison here who is famous for stating that the 5000 times his light bulb experiments failed were just feedback not failures, and that every time the feedback was negative, he knew it was one less thing to try, another variable removed from the equation.

However, I like to see these journeys more as climbs. Our experiences and skills we learn along the way are more akin to us rising higher.

As we climb higher our vantage point changes. What we believed to be the truth yesterday, may be different today. That doesn’t mean we should look back and consider ourselves to have been liars or unknowing of the truth, just that today we now have a loftier viewpoint from which to gain more information and knowledge and change our perceptions.

As we spend more time training in a martial art, we become more experienced, and if you like, reach higher levels of insight and knowledge. Our truth can change, just as our horizon moves farther away the higher we climb.

Consider for a moment a man lying on the ground. His horizon is only a few feet away. Then consider a man standing 6ft tall, his horizon is now miles away and so his own perceptions, beliefs and truths are all altered by this new perspective.

Recently, I also watched a program about the astronomy and scientists calculate the size of the universe. Now I’m not very knowledgeable in these areas and I don’t pretend to be a Patrick Moore of any kind, although I do play a mean glockenspiel, so I won’t bore you with my primitive understanding of all things astrological. The only Galaxy and Milkyway I know are sold in sweet shops and taste very nice!

However, one thing that was totally evident was that, if you want to climb high to gain a better view point, you couldn’t get much higher than exiting the Earth’s atmosphere and going into space.

"It's hard to appreciate the Earth when you're down right upon it because it's so huge. It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water ... It's something that many people take for granted when they're born and they grow up within the environment. But they don't realize what they have. And I didn't till I left it.''
Jim Lovell - Apollo 8 & 13

"Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slow swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realise this is Earth . . . home."
Edgar Mitchell - Apollo 14

It was Jim Lovell who famously talks about how, when on one of the Apollo missions, he looked back at the beautiful blue Earth, held out his hand, extended his thumb, and managed to hide the entire Earth, with the billions of people on it, totally behind his thumb.
It changed his perspective on everything. It showed him just how small and insignificant we all are and yet how important we all are at the same time.

And a great comment that sums up how sometimes, what you expect to find as you climb higher may not turn out as your had planned, but is a valuable and wonderful discovery anyway...
It was also Jim who said that when NASA sent him and his crewmates to explore the moon, the most important thing they discovered was the Earth – symbolized in one of the most beautiful photo’s I’ve seen “Earthrise”

This is quite literally the most extreme way physically you can climb to higher vantage points to gain a better perspective.

The key point here is this

You can climb physically in order to gain a higher roost in which to view things differently. Some climb as high as outer space.
Alternatively, you can climb in your martial art, raising your level of skill and expertise in order to gain a better view on the arts and their function and suitability to your personal requirements.
You can even climb metaphysically, to enhance your own “self” to dizzying heights of personal development. Altitudes that most cannot reach, touch or relate to.

Whatever way you choose to climb, you will find new truths the higher you go.
Sometimes you may love the new learning’s offered to you from this loftier position, some truths you may not like at all.
But rest assured, either way, the climb will have been worth the effort.

So start your climb now and strive to get as high as you can in whatever it is you want to excel at.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche
“He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.”

Stay Safe & Have Fun


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