Don't react, respond
We all know the person: a glass hits the floor and they react as though it’s the end of the world. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just broken glass on the floor.
During training, our instructors expose us to stressful situations. In the controlled environment of the dojang, and under careful watch, we are pushed further and further outside our comfort zone. Our training takes us to places we would otherwise choose not to go, and to places the average person will never venture. Experiences such as sparring against a senior Dan member or presenting a hyung in front of a panel of Masters helps to condition our approach to how we handle stress.More accurately, through our training and the situations we find ourselves in, we learn how to prepare for stressful situations and how to respond appropriately.
Through our training we learn how to prepare for stressful situations and how to respond appropriately.
Over at Thin Difference, Jon Mertz looks at the differences between the concepts of reacting vs responding. He sums it up by explaining how “our emotions take a central role” in our reactions, while responses are “guided less by emotion and more by logic”.
Regular, meaningful training gives us the tools necessary for remaining focused and alert when under pressure, as well as helping to build an awareness of our surroundings. It gives us the confidence to know every stressful situation has a solution, even though the answer may not be immediately apparent. Whether you react or respond to a situation influences your levels of stress. Reacting with emotion and without considering the facts can often inflame a situation and make it worse. A cool, calm and thoughtful response based on logic, however, allows you to see your problems clearly. Our emotions often cloud our thoughts and restrict our ability to find a solution. If you choose to push the big red PANIC! button and allow your emotions to dictate your reactions when the stress levels rise, you risk missing the obvious solution. To the martial artist, reacting instead of responding represents a lack of understanding and a lack of control.
Our traditional approach to martial arts training, with high levels of repetition and a thorough attention to detail, gives us a firm understanding of our techniques. The first time someone throws a punch at us can be quite confronting, but with time and effort we learn to respond in an efficient and effective manner. Gradually our confidence builds until attacks are met with techniques that flow with ease and an apparent lack of effort. By conditioning the mind and body to respond according to the circumstances we find ourselves in, we learn not to react out of fear or surprise, but instead to respond with well considered and effective techniques.
Responses contain reasoning - Jon Mertz
Responding should also mean your actions are commensurate to the problem; ie, you don’t go too far. When we do go too far, we generally describe our actions with the term overreacting, which in itself says a lot about this discussion. You won’t hear many people say they over-responded to a situation, because the idea of responding to something generally implies there was thought and logic applied to the action.
Under the guidance of our instructors, Soo Bahk Do training prepares us both physically and mentally for many of life’s challenges. The skills we learn in the dojang can, and should, be carried into our everyday lives. As a martial artist, we must seek ways of implementing these lesson into every aspect of our lives for the betterment of ourselves and the community around us.
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Kim Wyles, instructor at Sydney Moo Duk Kwan
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