If this blog seems more random than usual of late, blame it on Richard Grannon. I’ve been following his video courses and the information is getting assimilated in random chunks. Sometimes stuff hits me that’s purely about me. Sometimes the info makes me look at the waters I’m swimming in. I don’t quite know which bit is scarier.
At the same time, I’ve been hammering away at the new book, which is going to be about the pitfalls and opportunities of teaching self-defence to students who are recovering from trauma. Every time I think the damn thing’s done, I find a whole other layer to the issue. Richard Grannon’s info on emotional trauma and the neural pathways it can create has opened a whole new can of worms in that respect.
There tend to be common traits to people setting off on the self-defence journey. Yes, everyone is different; yes, everyone is special; but actually our commonalities are often greater than our differences. I’m not a people person, yet I can walk into a dojo and within a relatively short period of time work out what most people are looking for there. You work out what people want, you can work out what they are missing, or what they think they are missing. The vast majority of the time it’s got very little to do with the physical aspects of the activity. It doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t work at all if you spend your listening time trying to work people out instead, because it means you’re not really listening; but it works often enough to be useful.
(Now, for me, I like to think that my motivations are infinitely more intricate, that I’m not as obvious, but I’m pretty damn sure that the people I respect the most can see right through me. There’s a level of vulnerability in that that I find terrifying and horrifying, but that’s my problem. I know that the cost of hiding from them to avoid judgement is infinitely greater than the possible ego-damage of them not liking what they see. Also, wondering the world as a damaged asshole has proven to be rather costly.)
There also tend to be common traits to instructors. In fact, I suspect there may be fewer types of instructors than there are of students, and I have half a theory about why that might be; though that may be purely the result of me not knowing enough instructors, or them being less inclined to open up to me. Dunno. Don’t care. I’m infinitely more interested in what happens routinely than in the exceptions, anyway, because what happens routinely affects more people, or at the very least affects me more often.
The thing I’m tripping over at the moment is how many of us have been shaped by the events we’ve been through. Most of us have survived something. Some of us are survivors – and those two things are not equivalent. This sounds obvious as hell, but sometimes it isn’t those affected. We’re often all to prone to forgetting that we may still carry parts of our past with us. We’re often oblivious to how what we do now may be tapping into what happened then, reinforcing and reasserting certain habits and beliefs (dare I say “neural pathways” with next no background in psychology?) that were created as a result of the trauma, or as work-arounds to deal with the damage caused by the trauma . And if what we’re doing is self-defence teaching or learning, that can still applies.
So the thing that’s freaking me out at the moment is how the human interactions in self-defence instruction can mirror or tap into what abuse or trauma have left behind. And not only I don’t know how to look at it without feeling nauseous, but I have no idea whatsoever how to convey it without hurting and insulting people. Not a goddamn clue.