What is it about martial arts which involve a struggle between the internal (against yourself/memory/timing/instinct/courage/fear/stress, etc.) and the external (your training partner/their skill/ movement/knowledge/the unknown/the unpredictability, etc.) that attracts us? Others may discover this struggle via yoga, lifting weights, learning a new skill and having to take an examination, etc. but nothing quite replicates and authenticates this experience via a live, physical and immediate challenge.
Much of this appeal, in my limited experience, is a reflection of our own worldview and how we take stock of our daily lives and individual struggles.
Given a task at hand you need to simplify, cut to the chase, don’t waste time, effort or energy and struggle (internal and external) until the goal is achieved. Repeat consistently.
I suppose these sparring and rolling sessions represent a smaller, more manageable exposure to stress where we willingly and knowingly subject ourselves to be placed in a situation of danger and unpredictability, to then use the lessons learned from the experience and model our normal lives from it. We test our theories and reactions, first visualised and driven by strength, then endurance then technique and later purely strategic (mental) game as we can almost predict the outcome of the sparring sessions within the crucial first 30 seconds. These we place ourselves in act like a kind of vaccine against the daily onslaught that life has in store for us and we learn to focus on the things that matter and let the less important issues slide by the wayside (don’t stress the small stuff – or don’t stress over things that is beyond your control?).
I’m as fascinated by the techniques used by my training partners as much as my own reaction to them, especially when a surprising, unpredictable maneuver is applied. In these moments you get to experience yourself in a raw, unrehearsed, unplanned, “sh*t’s hit the fan” response. Do you panic? Do you remain calm? Do you react accordingly? Or not? That’s the interesting observation and little by little our lives become calmer.
That’s my take.
In servitude and openness,