Friday, March 1, 2013

Teaching Them To Fight

I remember being at a Kenpo Karate Seminar and the Instructor said to the class “The most likely scenario in which you would ever use one of these upward blocks I am teaching you is when you open the closet door and the Christmas presents you forgot on the top shelf start to fall down and you protect yourself.”  Thinking to myself quietly I realized Jews, Muslims and atheists would have nothing to worry about, their closets would never attack them.  But I would continue to train for the day those presents decided to attack.  Another instructor made the comment during a break where he felt that if the only thing a student studying martial arts ever learned was “Not to Freak Out” during an altercation of a stressful situation then his training did its job.

And I thought, “I’m paying $100 a month to learn not to freak out?  I thought I was learning cool ninja stuff and how to beat others up, in glorious choreographed fight scenes.  Why was I learning how to breath, how to stretch and how to use torque and fulcrums?”  Yes, I was a disappointed student in the art of not freaking out.  I studied it for 6 years and I got so good at “Not freaking out” I was apathetic.  

That was then.

Now, I have children.  And they freak out, A LOT.  Honestly, I am not sure how they are wired to go from Zero to Crazy in small events like broken crayons or the ever horrible “He’s in my ROOM!” but they do.  And they do it well; they are masters of the freak out.  And to be honest I sit back and think to myself, “DUDE!  WHAT’S YOUR DEAL?!”  But I never say it, because I don’t freak out.

I have a sometimes stressful job.  Sometimes things break, and they break hard.  So, while networks are down and email isn’t working and we need those contracts in .pdf form, or the web is down and people can’t buy stuff or whatever, you can’t freak out.  You shut up, no matter what Exec is yelling in your ear and you figure out the problem and you fix it.  It’s not time to be angry over why it broke, scared that you can’t fix it or have anxiety that it might break again after you fix it.  You push that aside and you focus.  Most people do it; some do it better than others.  With family, friends or acquaintances though, we tend to be less forgiving and more apt to let our emotions get the better of us.  This happens especially when we feel we have been wronged personally and we want the other person to know it.  

Earlier this week, Brandon had enough of his little brother Collin.  Collin can cause the best of us to freak out.  Why?  No idea, it’s a gift.  Whatever is annoying in me appears to operate in this kid at such high levels it’s detectable from space.  Any who, Collin had duped and/or frustrated Brandon for the last time, and Brandon was pushed to the point of tears.  You know, those angry tears where it’s either cry or grind your teeth and stab because of what happened.  So I pulled Brandon’s hyper tensed body over to me where I didn’t ask him what was wrong.  That doesn’t matter.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

What mattered is his anger was getting the better of him, causing him to lose his sense of self and manifest itself physically.  I started quietly talking to him, telling him to not allow his anger to control him.  When people get angry they say things they don’t mean, they can’t control themselves physically and nothing; NOTHING should have that power over you.  I helped him breathe slower, and walked him back from whatever path he decided to let himself walk down.

When he calmed down enough, his frustration left and I hugged him, told him I loved him and that things will happen that can make you angry and cause you to flip out, but you don’t have to allow yourself to surrender control to those feelings.

I don’t want my kids to grow up and be submissive to their emotions.  

       Proverbs 14:17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.

During Brandon’s episode I explained to him when someone gets upset they lose control, in anger they can make mistakes.  In fear they can react with unfortunate consequences.  All things can be forgiven, but you are responsible for the repercussions of your actions during those moments. 

More important than teaching my kids how to fight in self-defense will be to teach them how to win the fight over their own emotions, how not to Freak Out.  Anything that I can do to show them not to allow anxiety, anger, depression, ignorance, fear or pride to have the primary place in their minds must be my primary goal as their father.  I need to change their perception on how they think when these moments come so they can remain calm.  Historically, the Apostle Paul had a lot of unfortunate and stressful things happen to him including having his head cut off.  Now I am sure the last one was only stressful for a moment, but still leading up to it he had some pretty hardcore circumstances that if anyone was allowed to freak out it could have been this guy.  But he wrote this instead…

         “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these thing”

            Paul made a conscious decision to focus on the positive that was around him, and to let his belief system and relationship with Christ to lead in this area.  That governed his emotions.  Was he perfect?  No, he even said he never arrived at the final fruition of his Christian life, but that’s not the goal.  The goal is to be something better than an emotional hurricane, to be led spiritually and not emotionally.

Martial Arts taught me the enormous amount of damage the human body can take and still function.  The desire to push yourself beyond a normal breaking point physically can give you a sense of security when faced with an altercation where normally when threatened the adrenaline kicks in and mistakes can be made if not channeled properly.  I didn’t realize until later that the greater victory came in the battle that was already won in my mind to stay focused and not to listen to a chemical or emotional reaction that overpowered proper thinking.

Proverbs 14:29  He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.