You wouldn’t think of that advice as relating to martial arts, but indeed, that is what the teacher taught us this morning. Oh yes, and also be generous and be patient.
All true, as the teacher proceeded to demonstrate. On me. For thirty minutes.
If I made any sort of aggressive move towards the teacher, I found myself immediately in a disadvantageous position. Force equals defeat. Got it. He was always nice.
If I wanted to move in a certain direction or occupy a certain space, the teacher yielded and quickly moved into unclaimed space, again to my disadvantage. He would smile and say something like “Oh, you want this space? Okay take it.” He was always generous.
If he took hold of me in some way, my instinct was always to try to escape the hold immediately, which never worked. But if I took hold of him, he would be still…and wait to see what I would do. At which point, well, see “be nice” and “be generous” above. Let’s just say it was never to my advantage. He was always patient.
Throughout this training, he was always smiling, always reminding me to be nice, be generous, be patient. We think sometimes that following this advice makes us weak, pushovers, vulnerable. But when he was done with me (not much of a challenge), I watched this small man, maybe 5′ 2″, take on the best martial artists in our school, teachers themselves from a variety of martial arts traditions. All of them were bigger than he, and two of them were at least 6′ 4″ or 5″. They had no more success than skinny old me. The teacher never even broke a sweat.
Once again, martial arts lessons teach me lessons in life. Being nice, generous, patient, could get me through many situations better than my tendency to try impatiently to force a particular outcome.
So when faced with challenges, I’m going to try to remember his advice — be nice, be generous, be patient. And keep smiling.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~Dalai Lama