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by The M.A.D. Dad 2 months ago in advice
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The Battle for Opportunity

Life presents us with so many situations that pressure and elicit action. Often, we feel challenged and may range from frustrated to scared/confused by the various requests or demands placed in our respective paths. How do we tackle our fears when action is "demanded."

A good question to ask a martial artist might be "how do you handle a stressful situation?" It seems to be the focus of martial arts. Adverse conditions, poor circumstances, emotional interactions, social relationships, martial arts spills over into all of these stress filled areas. Is there something that can be gleaned from self defense practice?

A good starting point is the concept of stillness. Stillness may several different names depending on the martial arts setting. It may be called "resolve", "fortitude" or "inner peace" to mention a few synonyms. But, the concept is similar. Simply, it is a principle of remaining committed to awareness or event, processing of circumstance and applying action as a prepared response to an event or thing instead of just a reaction.

Stillness involves observation. Looking at all of one's environment with every available sense. Seeing, hearing, smell, taste, and touch help to increase the depth of being complete in the assessment of a point in reality. To properly use one's senses, action must halt and focused attention given to a moment. With practice, recognition and perception hasten in how quickly they process and a response can almost seem instantaneous.

In some styles, a underlying association with stillness is the belief that opportunity may not always be present. When you look at sparring match, athletic contest, altercation or even discussion, sometimes success is just a matter of timing. If you are trying to sell a product to customer in a retail setting, you can have the best reasons on Monday, but not receive the sale until Friday when your customer receives his or her paycheck. In a fight, an opponent may be vulnerable to your attack for only a split second. Awareness through stillness allows you to be ready to respond when the moment to strike occurs in an event.

A common misconception with stillness is that you must stop everything to be still. Stillness is not inaction. It is applied focus. You are still participating with just effort applied to evaluating the time. Thinking through scenarios and ascertaining risk and reward with choices presented.

It is not flawless. It takes refinement to develop stillness. Several masters spend their entire lives working on just this concept. Like any technique, trial and error yield success and failure. And, with continued experience, it becomes more refined. Refinement leads to improvement in process and then outcome.

A question that may occur could be "How do I start?" A simple answer, take ownership of your role a stressful situation. Good practice is finding someone that you have a consistent relationship with on a daily/weekly basis and start this process with them. When they make you feel pressured to act, breathe and observe the moment. Ask the following questions;

1. Do I need to act immediately?

2. What is happening in this situation?

3. What are the motivations for myself and the other party?

4. What are possible actions for myself in this event?

5. What are the consequences/ rewards that could follow my actions?

6. When is the best time to act or what factors would lead to the most successful outcome?

Bear in mind, in most cases, situations often do not dictate a "need" for immediate action. Take the opportunity to assess first and then act. Remember, it is a choice in when you decide to seize an opportunity. Sometimes, a moment may be right or not when it comes to action. Remember, be still and wait for the best time to strike.

The M.A.D. Dad


About the author

The M.A.D. Dad

I call myself the M.A.D. Dad. M.A.D. stands for Martial Arts Direction. I want to help others battle the forces that threaten our peace with lessons that I have been blessed to discover through my experiences in both Martial Arts and Life.

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Comments (3)

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  • The M.A.D. Dad (Author)2 months ago

    Thank you for your thoughts! Overall, this story reflects on being able to avoid reacting without reflection. I believe in preparation and plans, but stillness allows for adaptations to changing circumstances. Survival and thriving in life require plans and stillness to observe when it’s best to apply them and decide which of multiple plans would be most appropriate for a given situation. Thank you again for the comment!

  • Annelise Lords2 months ago

    Sometimes, a moment may be right or not when it comes to action. Remember, be still and wait for the best time to strike. True, always have a plan of action.

  • Annelise Lords2 months ago

    Thinking through scenarios and ascertaining risk and reward with choices presented. I think about everything before I do it. I weigh consequences and rewards.

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