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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Power found between two trees

[Edit: Started writing this January last year]
There is a pair of old trees in Antwerp. Walking from one to the other I get stronger, faster, happier.
I've been trying to figure out how I can be a better teacher.

In college, we had this really helpful and organised teacher, he was tremendously dedicated to his craft; wonderful command of engineering mathematics. His notes and lectures laid it all out with superb clarity; matter-of-fact. But when it came down to exam and study time - it was all like grasping water; the stuff was hard to reproduce and apply. He made me feel it was easy; "All you have to do, folks, is..." But it needed more work. He made us feel safe and secure with his notes and lectures. Complacent.

Unintentionally unsuccessful.

In secondary school, we had a mathematics teacher, who was on the other end of the spectrum; she offered little to any sense of security in her classes, to the point that I was the only one out of 12 that did not find a tutor for extra support. Strangely, the end result was that the class did spectacularly as a whole; Bs and As all round. In a Machiavellian way, she created a circumstance where her students could excel.

Unintentionally successful.

Risk Compensation - a theory which suggests that people typically adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk, becoming more careful where they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel more protected. Not enough perceived risk and we'll stagnate, too much and we'll flounder.
Where's that middle ground? Spoonfeeding; cast adrift..

During his workshop two years ago at Elite Athletes,  Tom Weksler talked about his approach to teaching floor-work and acrobatics; he wanted us to get a feel for moving around down there, for us to get a grasp the motor principles at play. He was resigned to the fact that he had to teach us a pattern of moves because he had found it the best way to learn lessons. But he invited us to figure out what the movement and pattern illustrated.

I had my first session with my kung fu student this evening, since the Fighting Monkey Intensive in Athens.

Fascinating, rich, thought-consuming and frustrating. It reminded me of the Buddhist adage:
"When you meet Buddha on the road, kill him."
Jozef and Linda spent 5 days showing us a full spectrum of concepts: stillness, rhythm, collaboration, situational movement instead of rote movement. Challenging us to find our own insights from the situations.

So for the coming 2 months I will not give him technical or detail corrections, instead I am going to suggest a quality that a movement or set or exercise cultivates and let him judge and question for himself if he can solve it.

The Form of Father, central in the Fighting Monkey practice, as Jozef pointed out is a set of exercises, a lot of them similar to what they do on soccer pitches every weekend, nothing holy. But the story of the father form is rich. This is 8000 thousand years old, something precious, healing, comprehensive and powerful; it will heal you and more.

My experiences and what I have heard from others that work in embodiment (Mark Walsh, Francis Bryers, Anouk Brack, Paul Linden) is that the body is very porous/sympathetic to the intention/purpose:

If I believe something, the body will do its best to support and cultivate that perception. It's why pharmaceutical companies bend themselves over backwards with double blind studies, to ensure that the patient has no inkling if it is the real pill or the sugar pill they are taking.

At the end of the session, I pointed at two grand stately trees several paces apart. I told him walking between these two trees would make him more powerful. He just has to figure out how that could be true.