Choking in clarity

Friday nights at the Boston Martial Arts Center are always interesting. It’s the night that black belts get to train and focus on material relevant to them (one of the few nights/evenings exclusively dedicated to advanced training).

This past Friday, we were looking at various choke techniques to put someone’s lights out if need be. I thought I’d point out that this is advanced training so that no one gets the mistaken idea that if you’re interested in trying out martial arts, this sort of stuff won’t happen to you on the first day you show up. Ten years after the first day, maybe, but certainly not day one!

What’s interesting about choke techniques is that when you’re on the receiving end, they bring astonishing clarity to your mind. Everything and anything else going on in your head immediately ceases to be important when you’re running out of air or on the verge of passing out. Even food and water are irrelevant because your body knows it’s in trouble if something doesn’t change real soon. The economy? Not even on the radar. Troubles at home or work? Not important.

Nothing matters because your body senses it’s in mortal danger.

Believe it or not, this is a good thing. This sort of training creates some intense presence of mind, because you can’t be thinking or worrying about anything else. Nothing else matters. It immediately narrows your focus down to the most important things in the world to you – the air supply to your lungs and the blood supply to your brain.

Sometimes it takes a shock like a well-applied choke to put the rest of life in perspective. The economy is a legitimate concern. So is the climate crisis, war, poverty, disease, etc. However, training like this helps you re-prioritize because you can’t afford to focus on anything else. You have to solve the most immediate problem first.

I’m not suggesting that you go out and have someone throttle you if you feel like you’re out of focus, but to the extent that you can have experiences which help you snap out of unfocused anxiety mindsets, you’ll be able to achieve greater clarity.

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