Open Mind

Free your mind, and the rest will followIn all of the martial arts I’ve trained, different teachers have taught me varying ways to do the same techniques. There are the slight changes in style with the things that are common to more than one art, but I’ve also had differing instruction from teachers within the same art. I used to wonder about who was “right”, but now I realize that the minor changes in details are really just a matter of body type and taste. They reflect the varying ways that people adapt things to best suit their strengths and weaknesses. Once in awhile, someone’s adaptation of a particular technique due to their own physical limitations will be different enough that it will actually become an alternate method within the dojo, and it will be taught alongside the traditional one.

Having access to many teachers with varying details allows me to explore several options and figure out what works within my abilities. The other day in Jiu-Jitsu when Conan had us practicing north-south choke, Brad showed me a slight variation that he said was taught to him by Ray. When he did the choke, his shoulder was driving directly into my trachea, which was very painful and effective. When I tried to do it like he did, I had a hard time getting my shoulder in the right place, so I wasn’t able to cause the same effect. However, Brad pointed out that I didn’t really need the shoulder, because my bony little arms encircling his neck hurt like crazy, and my blood choke was so effective that his fingers and toes started tingling right away.  It turned out that the original way we were practicing the choke worked better for me, but the variation was better for Brad.

When someone teaches me something I already “know” in a manner that is different than what I have previously learned, I just keep an open mind and try to figure out if what they are offering is something that could be helpful to me. Sometimes just slightly altering the details of a technique can make it go from one that doesn’t work very well to one that does. The only “right” way to do something is in the manner that is the most effective for you, and a good way to find out what that is to be able to try different options. Opening your mind can help you find your way.

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