Waiting, waiting

Waiting, waiting

If there is anything anyone can learn from Aikido or any martial arts, it will be the virtue of patience. It can be an on the mat patience, or it can be a lifetime of waiting. Holding on, acting on the right moment takes practice, discipline and a knack of getting the groove of things.

Patience determines Punctuality

While we would like to be punctual all the time as a form of respect to those who waited for us. Important events requires us to turn up on time as it is considered rude in most cultures to be late. The famed Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi displayed excellent tactical use and abuse of patience to win duels. He would frequently turn up late to irritate his opponents and disrupt their psyche. There are also times he would turn up very early just to surprise his enemies, cutting them down before they have time to settle down and prepare for the fight.

So while in our peaceful time, most people respects being punctual and we try often to do that, on a very transactional sense, we need to have a good sense to hold our tongue and not speak too soon. Or sometimes, we need to jump the conversation and seize the topic so that we can get an edge over the negotiation.

Outwaiting the belligerent

This happened to my friend who was a part-time lecture with one of the universities, during his tenure, there was a change in Head of Department (HOD), and unfortunately this new HOD was a kind of loggerhead with my friend, and of course, the new HOD made parts of my friend’s life difficult in the campus, and he got his classes cut down by more than half.

There was nothing my friend could do, but to ’embrace the suck’, and carry on. This goes on for a few years before the HOD was left, and the current faculty members welcomed by friend back to teaching. It turned out that the HOD was also making things difficult for many of faculty members.

We both agreed on hindsight that we owe partly to our martial arts training to wait out the unbearable. He was a old school bare-knuckles type of karateka and he has suffered fair share of injuries and indignity of collapse, so enduring this overbearing HOD was something that has to be done with stoicism.

Patience is Timing

On the mat, Harry sensei has always emphasized on making complete turns, go the full circle. He really took his time to show us, properly how a technique is done. When he does his technique, I find it difficult to resist him, and you will go along with his arc and trajectory.

Going the full circle on the mat, means that his technique are very clean and often graceful. He is able to properly displace a larger, stronger and younger uke by taking his time to do the technique properly. There is no rush, nor short-cuts. He hates short-cuts.

Our younger selves can’t help it, as we lack the temper of age to understand timing properly. We are not able to arrest our fears and trepidation when we face our opponents, we fast forward to execute our techniques quickly and go for the ‘kill shot’.

We often forgot that the entire waza () is a journey, it is a means to an end. Our impatient selves put the cart before the horse and see it as an end to a means. So we rush through the whole technique to come to the throw. Without being patient, and properly draw the uke out in a full arc, without making sure our turns are circular, we turn a very graceful Aikido technique into a shallow movement, filled with linear and weak positioning. Of course the throw will be spectacular, but who are we kidding?

Expressing yourself with Visual Cues

Expressing yourself with Visual Cues

Dear Wayne,

Sometimes, under duress, you have the habit of closing up, clamping down your pent up emotions. I’m not sure if you have a loss for words, or when the stress gets to you, you just simply shut down. This kind of emotional withdrawal can be difficult for us to understand how you feel and it often frustrates us, as we cannot find out what we can do to help you. This is quite pertinent when you are dealing with difficult exam questions, and you revert to a downward spiral of a negative emotional abyss.

It took me a while to figure this out but during my one of my recent digital courses where I learned about Design Thinking and Continuous Improvement, I came across a few concepts that I think can help us better manage your emotional expressions

Visual Controls

Design thinking is customer centric, so I asked you during a period when you are in a receptive and open mood what kind challenges and emotions you go through when you are dealing with a particularly difficult questions. From the feedback I gather, I came up with a few visual cues for you to quickly absorb and change your emotions from a not so constructive one to a more can-do attitude.

You’ve made many glaring mistakes on some of the seemingly easy questions and while we know you know how to do it, we need to find out why you continue to make mistakes when you shouldn’t. So I came up with this simple visual cues to prime you, as you’ve told me that you have a tendency to assume the question is easy, gloss through them and become careless, resulting in anyhow doing the questions, with obvious consequences.

Subsequently we also realised that there are papers where you got stuck and cannot finish the questions, which is equally bad, because you glanced through and realised that the questions is difficult as it is a long paragraph. You’re lazy to read the whole thing, and quickly concluded that it is difficult, and you become sian to do the question.

After ‘interviewing’ you, I realised that you know the questions, you just need to read one sentence at a time, and break the bulk into bite size chips. Use annotation, it is a technique your mum has taught you but you cannot internalize it, so I came up with this visual cues to prompt you and prepare you to think in this approach.

When you realised that you have spent too much time on a single question, you tend to panic and quickly rushed through the rest, again with undesirable outcome. So I use a simple phrase to help you focus your energy on completion with panic.

6 Ps-Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

I got this off the internet to prime you on the importance of being organized in though as well as in your ‘hardware’ such as pens, stationeries and make sure you have everything where you want them to be. This will help you get into a more collected psyche so that you can better deal with the matter at hand, which is your question papers.

Planning also means that you flip then entire question paper at the get go to better sense of how much you have to do, how many pages there is until you finish, since one of the many issues you have is working on the questions, and coming to a realization you have another 5 questions, and less than 20 minutes, PANICK BIG TIME.

Managing your emotions

We also have to address your ‘going into a cave’ when you are stressed up. so I used emoticons to help us navigate a pathway to a better understanding of how we can help you, and how you can help yourself express your frustrations.

I pulled out more than 20 of the more common emoticons so that you can pick one to express your current feelings. We do this before you start your tests so that we can better gauge your response. While I didn’t get a statistical data out of the frequency you pick ‘Nervous’, ‘whatever’, ‘focused’ and others, it does help you give us a label which we can work on.

Work in progress

I put all these visual cues into our iPad and you can swipe them and pick the closest emoticons reflecting your mood, it does helps us better understand your feelings and while I don’t have a conclusive feedback from you if these method works or not, I do observe lesser occurrence of negative emotional melancholy meh.

While I don’t want to be critical or judgmental, we still have to get s**t done even when we are meh, especially when we are meh, but knowing that we are meh, can help us bring some level of awareness on it and we can try to swing that mood around. The exams won’t go away but if you can manage your meh, you can shift the mood and influence the outcome, which is a baby steps towards arresting that habit of a downward spiral into negativity.