Trash Talk Tuesday: Tu Quoque – You do it too!

Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when debating

TTTues
It’s Trash Talk Tuesday!

 

White Belt One:  I’ve noticed you have a tendency to rise up in your stance when you move.  Maybe you should watch yourself in the mirror and think about keeping your belt the same height as you move.

White Belt Two:  Oh yeah?  Well, Captain Kangaroo, you do it too.  So don’t tell me how to practice.

Do we detect a bit of ad hominem sauce in Two’s response?  Yes, fallacies can be combined!  The trick is to counter the main fallacy – in this case, Tu Quoque.  Tu Quoque is Latin for “You also.”  Two is hoping to shift attention away from his own inadequacies by pointing out that One is also having the same problem with moving in stances.

Stick to your guns with Tu Quoque.

White Belt One:  Yes, I do pop up, and I’m working on it.  Here comes Sensei – I’ll let you ask her about watching yourself in a mirror.

Let’s try another example.

Tom:  I know you really like Sensei Rockum Sockum, but I’m just not sure about his credentials.  I did some checking, and I think he got his black belt from a Cracker Jack box.  I bought fifteen boxes of Cracker Jacks, opened them up, and sure enough!  One of them had a black belt in it that looks just like Sensei Rockum Sockum’s belt.

Sam:  Oh yeah?!?  Well the style of Karate you study was founded by some guy who didn’t have any credentials or even a black belt!  Nobody who practiced Karate used to have any framed certificates on their walls or cute little belts around their middles.  I’m staying with Sensei Rockum Sockum’s Home Study Karate Kourse, thank you very much!

What Sam says about the founders of many of the styles of Karate is true.  However, the real issue is that Tom has some evidence that Sensei Rockum Sockum might be a fraud.  Can Sam prove Tom’s evidence is flimsy?  Sam isn’t even trying – he’s dodging the issue!  Sam is attempting to shift attention away from what is, to him, a very uncomfortable subject.  The tricky thing with Tu Quoque is not to let the discussion degenerate.

A less than ideal response:  Oh yeah?  Well at least my Sensei earned his belt.  You know, you’re really thick if you can’t see through Sensei Rockum Sockum.

A pretty good counter:  It’s true that way back when, nobody had any belts except to hold up their pants.  But let’s talk more about your instructor.  I have more evidence that Sensei Rockum Sockum’s credentials are questionable, to say the least.

The Core of Your Self

bodybuilder
Yowza!

Definitions of the word “core” include references to centrality and importance.  If I understand correctly, the core muscles are the muscles in your trunk both front and back but not necessarily the shoulders.  They support your spine.  You exercise those muscles when you do leg lifts, crunches, and (ugh) pushups.  In karate, we punch and kick from the core – our legs and arms snap like whipped towels if we throw the techniques properly from the core.  Just as your body has a core, your spirit has a core as well.  Most of what we do comes from the core.

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A good place to see what the core of a person looks like is in a nursing home.  Everything superficial is gone.  Careers are over.  Any fame won is largely forgotten by the general public.  No one looks like the chiseled young people you see in swimsuit advertisements.  Health is by and large gone.  Some are as helpless as newborn babies.  What’s left after all has been stripped away by the ravages of old age?  The core of who they are.  It’s sobering to see one elder bitter and unhappy while another is still smiling and blessing the socks off of everyone within hearing.  Even when someone is afflicted with Alzheimer’s, the core of who they once were peeks through for a fleeting moment every once in awhile.

 

Personal development is key to strengthening your core.  Martial arts are valuable for developing physical and mental control.  Spiritual activities (for example: church worship services) have proven their value throughout the ages and across cultures.  There are many ways to work on your core.  It is vital that you do so.  Someday you might find everything else stripped away.

Here in America, we are celebrating Thanksgiving today.  Being thankful is one of many very powerful ways of developing your core.  Even if you’re heartbroken and crying today, find a way to be thankful for the gift of tears because crying is a healing process.  Look outside the window.  Even gloomy skies and rain are a blessing – just ask anyone who lives in a desert.  If you’re out in that cold, gloomy rain, please seek out warmth and fellowship – shelters throw their doors wide open today and you’ll definitely find plenty to be thankful for – maybe even a bit of hope for your future.  If you can find one little thing to be thankful for, you’ll start to get better at finding more things.  Your “core” will get stronger.

 

If you want to explore the core of yourself further, Sensei Andrea Harkins has a great article that goes deeper and gives specific steps to help you think about what she calls “The Genuine You.”  Don’t worry – you don’t have to spend hours of meditation contemplating your bellybutton, but Sensei Andrea will make you think!  She also has a related post about seeking something you can be passionate about.   The great thing about passions is they come from your “core” and nourish your spirit at the same time!

What does the core of your self look like?  What are you made of?

Two Beginnings: My Story

This is in response to an article by Troy Seeling posted on Jackie Bradbury’s blog – Click here to read it!

When I was 13 I tried Karate because I was curious – would I be breaking boards within a week?  What did karate people do anyway?  I was also having trouble with bullies at school.  From the first few minutes I was hooked.  I felt stronger every class, so that kept me at it.  I spent 3 or 4 years training hard.

My Sensei honored me by asking me to help teach the little kids’ class.  I enjoyed it, but I started getting sick.  All the time.  I even got chicken pox that year!  My training went to pot and my grades at school were in jeopardy from all my absences.  I got so discouraged I quit altogether.  I wish I had simply bowed out of teaching little kids, then I would’ve been fine.  But I was a dumb mixed-up emotional teenage girl and didn’t think of that.  Years went by and I did next to nothing for exercise.  Life happened, I went to college out of state, kids came along, yada yada.

When my kids were little I spent a good deal of time bed-ridden because of illnesses they dragged home.  When my kids were a little older and not bringing in the germs as much, I tried teaching Sunday School at church.  I would always be sick by Thursday.  My doctor did some testing and found out I have IgG subclass 2 deficiency – a fancy way of saying that my body simply does not produce enough of one of the germ-fighting substances the body uses to fight off illness.  So far this winter, I’ve been healthy, but all the kids in my current dojo are old enough to stay home when sick and they practice good hygiene.  That wasn’t the case with the little kids I used to teach when I was a teenager.

I know now I need to be very clear about my future in karate – I have particular dojos in mind where I would love to eventually teach because the demographics are favorable to my condition 🙂

My daughter started training in September 2013 at the community college, took both quarters then continued at the local YMCA.  Secretly I was eating my heart out every time I went to pick my daughter up from karate.  I’d often come early just to watch her.  Sometimes I’d meet her for the light lunch she’d eat before class, and I’d watch the entire class.  I volunteered at tournaments and felt stabs of regret.  I was proud but jealous at promotions.

I had my excuses.  Some I shared, some I didn’t.  My daughter and three Senseis persisted in their efforts to get me on the mats again.  The straw that broke the camel’s back came after a tournament and pizza party in early June of this year.  My daughter said, “You could help me with kata and I could help you with kumite!”

Two days later I was back on the mats.  It was a birthday surprise for my daughter.  I dropped her off at the door of the Y as usual, then parked the car, ran into the locker room, and changed clothes.  The look on her face when I showed up in a gi was priceless.

I survived.  I knew I’d get in shape eventually, so I persisted.  I found that a few things I’d been concerned about shouldn’t have kept me from training again because they simply aren’t a problem.  I’ve re-claimed my love for karate.  I don’t feel middle-aged when I’m in class.  I feel young, capable, and strong.

I keep on practicing because as an adult, I see there are depths and dimensions to the art that I wasn’t able to grasp as a teenager.  There’s enough to keep me busy for as long as I am able to do Karate.  This weekend, I was privileged to be able to watch brown belts earn their black belts.  Among them was a 70 year old gentleman.  If he can do it, I can too.

 

Trash Talk Tuesday – Genetic Fallacy

TTTues
Time to learn how not to make a case for or against someone or something and how to recognize why certain comments set our teeth on edge.

Genetic Fallacy – A Baseless Attack Against the Source.

Daniel:  Mr. Miyagi said, “Secret to punch, make power of whole body fit inside one inch, here.”

Johnny:  And who’s Mr. Miyagi?  A repair man!  What a loser.  What does a handyman know about karate anyway?

It’s OK to check out the source of information and to verify its validity.  That’s good research.  But to dismiss the argument just because it came from an unlikely source is a logical fallacy.  A handyman could very well be a black belt in his spare time.  Johnny’s dismissive and insulting attitude indicates he’s not looking for Daniel to verify Mr. Miyagi’s credentials!

It’s interesting that good ideas can come from bad sources, so we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater by committing the genetic fallacy.  For example, let’s think about leg sweeps.  Kreese, the evil Sensei from the original “Karate Kid” movie (1984), expressed the idea that a leg sweep is a good way to disable an opponent.  Are we going to drop leg sweeps from our training just because Kreese likes leg sweeps?  That would be ridiculous.  However, if we really want to quote someone, we might just want to find out if Bruce Lee said anything about leg sweeps 😉

Now for a little sparring drill.  Practice keeping a cool head while reading the following:

Karate class is no place for Christians.  Karate comes from those pagan Eastern countries, therefore karate is of the Devil.

Deep breath – in through the nose, out through the mouth!  Let me help you cool down if your heart rate is up a bit.  I’ve read this sentiment in different places but no one has ever said it to my face – in fact there’s a lot of people in my church who think it’s pretty cool I get to do something fun with my daughter. Good job, you got through this drill just fine 🙂

One of many gentle counters to the above fallacy could be:

Fireworks came from Asia, so should we stop using them to celebrate the Fourth of July?

Remember, you’re not supposed to get riled up about logical fallacies.  Recognize them for what they are – all smoke and fury, signifying nothing.  Choose your fights wisely.

If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn.

Success

5th and final article in the series, “I Can Do Anything?

Plenty of time + lots of hard work + tons of help from others = SUCCESS

Success might not look like what you thought when you first began pursuing it

Back in August, my belt test didn’t go quite the way I wanted it to go. It wasn’t my best performance. I could make excuses. It was outdoors at Gasshuku (extended training retreat), not at my home dojo. Whine, whine whine – I was sleep deprived because I don’t sleep well away from home and especially not in a tent. Complain, complain – I don’t like the way shoes flop around on my feet when I kick so I left them off for the entire test instead of leaving them on until kumite. As a consequence, I slipped in the dewy grass a few times. Whine, whine – the other Senseis counting for the other groups testing nearby was distracting. Complain, complain – I’m directionally dyslexic and we weren’t facing the “front” of the “dojo” when we did kata. Whine, whine, whine – we’d already worked out for an hour before breakfast and we’d worked out the evening before, so I was dog tired. So how is it I managed to succeed? For the level I was testing for there is a good bit of grace, but that’s not the whole reason.

I knew some of the challenges in advance and prepared for them. I did everything I could to ensure that I could get some sleep, so that night wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Besides, I should’ve been able to do everything even if the Senseis had woken me up at midnight for testing! I trained for slippery stuff underfoot. At the latitude I live in, the long summer days mean I can sneak out of the house very early in the morning and do kata on the beach. If the tide’s out, there might be some sand, but for the most part, the beaches here are composed of little smooth rocks that roll under one’s feet (I leave my shoes on – bits of shell and glass are sharp). I’d trained for more than one workout in a day – what I did was barely sufficient but then again, I was pleased to discover I had underestimated my endurance. I didn’t anticipate the other factors. But I did the best I could to train for what I thought might happen.

I could’ve opted wait for the next promotion held in a comfy, air-conditioned dojo on wood floors after a good night’s sleep, only one workout within 24 hours, and a nice, orderly progression through testing each group. But I knew I would always wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t embraced the challenge of testing at Gasshuku. I knew my performance was likely to be “off,” so I told myself to keep on keeping on no matter what. I did. But after awhile of making mistakes in my two strongest areas – kata and kihon, I began to think maybe I wouldn’t pass this test. As I shoved my mouth guard in and strapped the fist pads on to prepare for my weakest area (kumite), I told myself it didn’t matter if I passed. I hadn’t shrunk away from the additional challenges. I had tried. I breathed in and looked around me.

I was in a green field under a blue sky. Trees surrounding the field were sighing in a little breeze. The sun was shining down. My daughter was there cheering me on. I was surrounded by extraordinary people doing fun things. I felt like even if I failed, it was a privilege to be there. Then it happened. Right before I walked into the ring, a Bald Eagle called from somewhere very close by. Wow. My heart was filled with joy, and I had new courage to continue. I suddenly didn’t care if I failed – I was going to put my whole heart into my fight just out of sheer delight at being where I was. It turns out my best performance the whole promotion was in my weakest area. I got the belt.

 

Success can come from failure or adverse circumstances

What if I’d failed? Sometimes failure can be a stepping stone on the way to success. I would have learned, trained and practiced diligently, and passed the next test with flying colors. I would still have the memories of being outdoors, barefoot in the cool grass, and that eagle calling. Thomas Edison failed many, many times when he was trying to invent the light bulb but we don’t ever say he was a lousy inventor. As Sensei Andrea Harkins says, mistakes are meant to happen.   OK, but what if I’d slipped on the grass and injured my knee so badly I could no longer do karate?

Stuff happens. Sometimes we are blindsided – hit by catastrophe out of the blue. For that, I refer you to the success story of Joani Earickson Tada. After being paralyzed in a diving accident, she learned to paint. Sometimes we’re cut down by something we simply can’t stand against. Read Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography The Hiding Place to find out about how a hideous infestation of lice helped her succeed in defying the Nazis right in the heart of a labor camp. Sometimes we’re rejected by someone we were counting on to help us on the road to success. Julie Andrews wasn’t cast for the movie “My Fair Lady” even though she’d played Eliza Doolitle in the theater for years. Instead, Disney hired her to play the title role in the movie “Mary Poppins.” She ended up winning Best Actress at the Academy Awards that year. The road to success for these ladies certainly wasn’t straightforward!

I’d love to succeed with everything going smoothly along a pre-programmed route, but that’s not in the cards. The road to success can be uncomfortable, to say the least. However, you might find your success to be even better than you first imagined it, especially if the journey was rough.

 

Does your success amount to a hill of beans?

“So you got your black belt. That’s nice,” my friend says as she slurps her coffee as an excuse to avert her eyes. I briefly and gently correct her about the rank, then ask about her kids.

“You barely passed? I thought it was an easy test.” Good for you, now go learn the new kata or something 🙂

“Joelle White? I don’t see her listed anywhere in this ancient book about 21st century martial arts.”

Not everyone is going to be impressed or even interested in your triumphs. I think it’s rather silly to not be interested in martial arts, but I have to keep in mind there are people who think it’s rather silly to not be interested in growing vegetables. There are people my rank who tested with me that day who had an easier time and who did better. I can live with that. Is anyone going to remember what I did four thousand years from now? Not likely – not many people today know what happened in 1986 BC. So does success matter? Oh yes it does.

Past success is something to hold onto when times are tough. Past success teaches us how to take the next step and achieve new goals. Best of all, we can tell others about our bumpy journeys to success in order to encourage them to keep pursuing their own goals.

Have you succeeded in something?  Great!  Now set some new goals.