Over the past few months, I’ve been discussing the first seven of my Ten Commandments of Street Survival in two articles: Ten Commandments of Street Survival Part 1 and Ten Commandments of Street Survival Part 2. Now I’d like to conclude with the final three commandments.
Commandments 8-10 of Street Survival
8. Thou Shalt Not Kill, Unless It Is Absolutely Necessary
Bruce Lee wrote in his Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life. Do not be concerned with your escaping safely—lay your life before him!”
What do you think of this? Pretty powerful, isn’t it? Note how it triggered a visual and how it affected your mindset: power or fear? Though Bruce Lee’s quote has much value, it sends a dangerous message if not analyzed correctly.
Many people who come to the martial arts for self-defense buy into the mythological images of cool nerves, impenetrable defense and total control. Unfortunately, the sociopath’s intensity on the street bears little relation to the energy in the dojo, and so those martial artists who have not done diligent homework for the street situation are predisposed to fail. This doesn’t mean they will. But it means they survive in spite of the way they trained.
What would you do if …? Have you really visualized different scenarios and analyzed what would be necessary to escape the confrontation safely? It takes courage to walk away. Is avoidance a component of your self-defense system? How far would you go to avoid bodily harm? Would you kill? What moral and ethical issues do your responses raise? Do you possess a directive, one that will support you in a court of law or when you look in the mirror?
When you train with integrity, and respect all humanity, you will grasp the deepest message in Bruce’s words. I endorse his message as a last resort.
9. Thou Shalt Not Settle For Mediocrity
Human beings are designed for improvement. Our brains and bodies are built for success. We use only a small percentage of our brain’s capacity. Our bodies are capable of massive muscular and cardiovascular development, and we have only just begun to explore the power of spiritual development.
Remember earlier I wrote that the mind navigates the body? I believe that there are three fundamental rules we all break from time to time that prevent us from maximizing our performance and development in many areas.
Compete with yourself. Use other people for inspiration only. If someone is better than you are, use his or her “skill level” as a reference point. Find out how they train and what their beliefs are. Many people miss this point and experience frustration in their training. The pejorative ego is duplicitous and works overtime on comparison. It’s your job to defuse this emotional time bomb and get focused on your path.
Don’t judge others. Don’t even judge yourself. Learn to evaluate, diagnose, weigh, and consider. When you change the “judgment filter” to one of “analysis,” you will gain so much more. Like comparison, judgment is a detour away from our goals. Many times we enter some arena (relationship, job, fight) worrying about what the other person is bringing to the table. How can you be yourself and work on you when you are fixating on them? True education takes place when we start to notice our tendency to compare and judge.
Many of us have been fed negative programs during our lives. These ideas eventually become our very own erroneous beliefs, and they severely handicap our growth. How often do we say or hear statements like, “You can’t,” “That’ll take too long,” “I’ll never be able to do that,” “What’s the point?” The list goes on… you get my point. Beliefs that do not serve your goals, success, happiness, or dreams must be purged from your mind. This is an easy process … unless you believe it is too hard.
Just remember that starting off positive is every bit as important as actually starting.
Here’s another key concept in the performance enhancement formula my company has developed. You’ll often hear motivators state, “Your potential is unlimited.” Nothing could be further from the truth. “Potential” is actually quite finite, whereas “capacity” is unlimited. Think about it (and yes, I know this is the complete opposite of conventional thinking). Your ability is limited by your capacity. But you can work on your capacity daily. And therefore capacity is continually evolving.
Potential, however, is fixed. Your potential is limited by the fact that you are human, or of a specific gender, age, size and so forth. Potential is also something we “can’t do” yet, but may be able to do at some point in the future. The trick in maximizing performance, therefore, is our ability to reframe, to create a personal paradigm shift and really direct our energy into our current abilities and forget about where we could be if….
Confused? Read the next two paragraphs and then reflect a little.
I have done a number of motivational seminars on this very important paradigm shift, an empowerment process I call The Myth of Peak Performance. To consider, evaluate, plan and proceed, you must understand the difference between capacity and potential. What you can do is your capacity. What you would like to be able to do is your potential. But, at the end of the day, you can only do as much as you can do.
Think about this: “You’ll never know how much you can do until you try to do more than you can.” In training, assess your capacity, recognize your potential as greater than that, create realistic goals so that you experience success regularly, and you will be on your way to self-mastery. But do not fixate on your potential.
In the self-defense and martial-arts worlds, many practitioners severely handicap their capacity by not sharing information, not investigating other options and ideas, not asking questions, etc. To go beyond the limitations of style, you must challenge all ideas so that your training results in unshakable faith in your skill.
10. Thou Shalt Not Rebuke Other Systems
Once again, let’s hear from martial philosopher Bruce Lee: “Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.”
Keep an open mind. Maintain a “Beginner’s Mind.” A beginner loves to learn. He is intent and intense. Learn to communicate, listen to the words, and listen to the voice of body language. When someone shows you a different way or explains a different approach, listen keenly. Savor, digest and absorb.
Secondly, as a martial artist and self-defense specialist, you cannot afford to limit your training. The more you understand any and all strategies, approaches, attitudes and methods, the greater your confidence.
In conclusion, remember that training must be holistic: Mind, Body, Spirit.