When form is doin` you

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: When form is doin` you

Postby BruceP on Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:40 pm

oragami_itto wrote:There's the authentic thing which takes time and training, and the counterfeit "trick" that you can teach someone in a single session. Goes for many of the skills and qualities.


Aww geeze eh

A baby doesn't need to learn any tricks before they know how to brush a fly off their face. You don't need to learn any tricks before you know how to scratch an itch on your skull. It's easy...

That thinking/belief, that time and training stand between spontaneity and proper method, is what has kept people from owning their tjq.

The skills any person possesses at present are all they need to find their tai cbi as a spontaneous, free and easy method. Proper training and time spent takes care of everything else.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby Bao on Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:38 am

BruceP wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:There's the authentic thing which takes time and training, and the counterfeit "trick" that you can teach someone in a single session. Goes for many of the skills and qualities.


A baby doesn't need to learn any tricks before they know how to brush a fly off their face. You don't need to learn any tricks before you know how to scratch an itch on your skull. It's easy...

That thinking/belief, that time and training stand between spontaneity and proper method, is what has kept people from owning their tjq.

The skills any person possesses at present are all they need to find their tai cbi as a spontaneous, free and easy method. Proper training and time spent takes care of everything else.


IME, both are correct. Not all, but most of people should be able to feel these spontaneous movements from start, though the sensation will become stronger and more controlled as they practice to feel these sensations better and at the same time learn to become more stable and coordinated. But some people can not be spontaneous and free from start, some people need quite some time of practice to loosen up and release tensions in their bodies. And others are not very good friends with themselves so they resent any kind of feeling that are free and spontaneous. All are different and everyone need a different amount of time to feel comfortable with the practice.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby RobP3 on Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:48 am

Bao wrote:
BruceP wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:There's the authentic thing which takes time and training, and the counterfeit "trick" that you can teach someone in a single session. Goes for many of the skills and qualities.


A baby doesn't need to learn any tricks before they know how to brush a fly off their face. You don't need to learn any tricks before you know how to scratch an itch on your skull. It's easy...

That thinking/belief, that time and training stand between spontaneity and proper method, is what has kept people from owning their tjq.

The skills any person possesses at present are all they need to find their tai cbi as a spontaneous, free and easy method. Proper training and time spent takes care of everything else.


IME, both are correct. Not all, but most of people should be able to feel these spontaneous movements from start, though the sensation will become stronger and more controlled as they practice to feel these sensations better and at the same time learn to become more stable and coordinated. But some people can not be spontaneous and free from start, some people need quite some time of practice to loosen up and release tensions in their bodies. And others are not very good friends with themselves so they resent any kind of feeling that are free and spontaneous. All are different and everyone need a different amount of time to feel comfortable with the practice.


This is where I always felt there was a "conflict" in TJQ practice. Some say the movements are natural and spontaneous, others that TJQ is a method that overlays and suppresses our natural movements
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby Bao on Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:21 am

RobP3 wrote:This is where I always felt there was a "conflict" in TJQ practice. Some say the movements are natural and spontaneous, others that TJQ is a method that overlays and suppresses our natural movements


People tend to mix different things together. Tai Chi and Neidan theory says that our movements we do in our daily life are not natural. They are learned and thus unnatural.

The movements a child does are natural. We are born with natural movements, but later as we grow up they are replaced with learned movements. A small child has a great energy. They move around, jump, run and they can keep on seemingly forever without being exhausted. But society teaches us to sit still, how to sit, how to move, how to behave- So we gradually lose our natural, original movements. Neidan and Tai Chi is designed to recapture this energy we had as a child, to throw away what we were learned about moving and being and re-gain, or re-build, our natural movements. This is the real meaning of "natural movements" in Tai Chi and this is what in old Daoist Neidan practice was believed to be the key to be able to live long and healthy life.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby wiesiek on Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:13 am

to clarified:
qigonng which I practice is connected with the MA internally only,
I mean energy is goin` by the pathways, as usual,
just
better...
MA is more side effect of doin` it
no conflict whatsoever ,
doing it on the 1st training ? why not if you have knowledge of the meridians etc., previous 20 years of meditation training and some MA under the belt, maybe babe ;)
anyway
learning curve of this quite simple form takes 3-6 month, doing it one time - 20 -40 minutes, depends of the breathing.
go figure it out,
and
I`m speakin` not about kinda of response for external stimulation -joint-
joyful usefullnes of the effords
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby wiesiek on Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:17 am

ps
sorry I use the wrong phrase : >doing it<
it should be:
>let it be<
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby LaoDan on Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:03 pm

BruceP wrote:I'd get people into that spontaneous responsive state on their first day of training - where they're 'just along for the ride'.

It's easy to create that state, and repeat it in the solo training.

To me, it seems like a difficult task to move people away from the natural “fight-or-flight” response when interacting with someone else, unless there is a level of trust and cooperation between the participants. But when we engage in fighting, we must have training to remain “neutral” without the fear (flight) or anger (fight), resistance (fighting against) or collapsing (running away), excesses or deficiencies, etc. that are the common way of reacting against aggression.

Taijiquan wants the spontaneous ability to “follow” the opponent (sticking, adhering, connecting, following) without imposing our likes and dislikes, habits, reflexive responses, etc. Is this the same “spontaneous responsive state” that you are able to train your students on day one? If so, then please share the training with us! If, what I understand takes a lot of training to achieve, can actually be learned on the first day, then this would be very valuable to me as a teacher and practitioner!
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby Bao on Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:21 pm

LaoDan wrote:To me, it seems like a difficult task to move people away from the natural “fight-or-flight” response when interacting with someone else, unless there is a level of trust and cooperation between the participants. But when we engage in fighting, we must have training to remain “neutral” without the fear (flight) or anger (fight), resistance (fighting against) or collapsing (running away), excesses or deficiencies, etc. that are the common way of reacting against aggression.


What my tai chi taught me pretty early was that my body functions better when I relax, when I am calmed and breath. For meeting violence and being forced to fight when I was younger, my natural reaction was to relax and become calm. I could, and still can, have problems copying with stress in daily life, but when I met conflicts, this was never a problem. It probably sounds weird, but this is my own experience. T'ai Chi can help you to re-learn your natural response to conflicts.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby BruceP on Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:01 pm

LaoDan wrote:To me, it seems like a difficult task to move people away from the natural “fight-or-flight” response when interacting with someone else, unless there is a level of trust and cooperation between the participants. But when we engage in fighting, we must have training to remain “neutral” without the fear (flight) or anger (fight), resistance (fighting against) or collapsing (running away), excesses or deficiencies, etc. that are the common way of reacting against aggression.

Taijiquan wants the spontaneous ability to “follow” the opponent (sticking, adhering, connecting, following) without imposing our likes and dislikes, habits, reflexive responses, etc. Is this the same “spontaneous responsive state” that you are able to train your students on day one? If so, then please share the training with us! If, what I understand takes a lot of training to achieve, can actually be learned on the first day, then this would be very valuable to me as a teacher and practitioner!


The "common way of reacting against aggression" aint so common when you consider the individual's personal threshold and perceptual catalyst(s) of those 'reactions'. I make a clear distinction between reaction and response. Reaction is what you 'think' you should do and response is what you do without thinking. Sure, you can train yourself to react without thought in sparring and what have you by drilling those reactions into your movement. Nothing wrong with that. But that's the path of prescribed method that tjq is supposed to lead one away from. It's like nailing one foot to the floor.

The state of spontaneous movement wiesiek is talking about has him connecting a 'non-martial' qigong to whatever martial content is found in the form he practices. Since the days of of EF I've been writing about certain qigong routines (Nine Temple Exercise, Five Animal) containing as much, or more 'martial content than the forms of Yang style and how tjq postures and sequences aren't a collection of applications/techniques - they're just a bunch of ideas for applying the movement sequences in any number of ways to suit the situation. I don't believe in techniques and have never drilled a single one or sought to affect any under pressure.

In answer to your question, yes and no. Neutrality principle is the central, inviolable precept of the type of work I was talking about. I've written lots of words about Neutrality Principle here at rsf and can't be bothered to repeat it all in this thread. In short, the drills I've developed are non-contextual, open-ended and serve no real purpose as far as martial skills development. The drills take an individual into a natural state where what you described :
Taijiquan wants the spontaneous ability to “follow” the opponent (sticking, adhering, connecting, following) without imposing our likes and dislikes, habits, reflexive responses, etc
is actually exactly the traits we're trying to explore rather than discard or eliminate from a player's natural dynamic. Those things you list are the path to understanding how an individual responds under pressure without preconceptions, or expectations of 'performance'. They comprise the mental/emotional component(s) of an individual's Personal Combat.

So what you wrote in the previous paragraph;
But when we engage in fighting, we must have training to remain “neutral” without the fear (flight) or anger (fight), resistance (fighting against) or collapsing (running away), excesses or deficiencies, etc. that are the common way of reacting against aggression
are, again, the types of things that should be thoroughly explored from day one. I've written about intermediary work as a way of exploring those things without all the fighty bullshit that obscures a clear view into the nature of those traits. I've developed other drills which are meant to test and challenge awareness, intuition and spontaneous response.

That type of work carries over quite easily into the solo training because I don't prescribe method or 'correct' posture. I leave it to the individual to self-correct through their study of the Thirteen Torso Methods and the insights Neutrality Principle imparts through the practical work we do in the drills. Proper training and time spent takes care of everything else.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby LaoDan on Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:38 pm

Thanks Bruce,

I may just be dense, but even though I think that I understand this intellectually, I still do not see it as being easy to successfully translate into practice. I understood the OP as possibly referring what sports often call “being in the zone” or “in the flow” (the flow state) or even “unconscious”; but that state is not typically easy to achieve consistently, and much training seems to be a prerequisite. However one thinks that they achieve this state for their activity (e.g., through meditation, qigong, repetition, pre-activity rituals, superstitious practices, etc.), it does not seem to be a common state, nor does it seem to be easily reproducible. Training seems to increase the odds of sometimes achieving this state, but nothing appears to ensure achieving it (at least for us mere mortals).

While your reference to a “Neutrality Principle” will have numerous specific meanings to you, it seems to match my understanding as well (I have not noticed anything that I would disagree with whenever you have brought it up). I want to maintain mental, emotional, as well as physical neutrality when interacting with others. But this is like saying “act without ego” (i.e. neutral) which is intellectually understandable, but difficult to do.

For example, I practice TJQ because I like and enjoy it, which is NOT being neutral (likes and dislikes are not neutral), but it has motivated me to continuously maintain my practice since 1979 (although more as a hobbyist than as a more serious practitioner). I intellectually understand the idea behind forgetting oneself and merely following the opponent, but that does not mean that I do not consistently have errors (excesses and deficiencies); though less than perhaps many other (especially lesser trained) practitioners, the errors are still evident (at least to me).

I have undergone training where one person closes their eyes and follows another’s movements while attempting to maintain a constant pressure at the point of contact. But even when practitioners can do this well, it does not seem to translate into being able to do it well during free play (even in the relative safety of push-hands play) when the partner/opponent is trying to take advantage of mistakes to take and maintain control.

I seem to be missing something when you state that:
BruceP wrote:The "common way of reacting against aggression" aint so common when you consider the individual's personal threshold and perceptual catalyst(s) of those 'reactions'. I make a clear distinction between reaction and response. Reaction is what you 'think' you should do and response is what you do without thinking.

Much of what humans do as either reaction or response seem to be incorrect, and need training to correct. You seem to imply that “response” would be correct whereas “reactions” are often wrong?? This point is not sufficiently clear for me to understand.

BruceP wrote:... how tjq postures and sequences aren't a collection of applications/techniques - they're just a bunch of ideas for applying the movement sequences in any number of ways to suit the situation. I don't believe in techniques and have never drilled a single one or sought to affect any under pressure.

I also like the practice of responding to what is actually happening, rather than trying to impose specific techniques on an interaction. That being said, I do also practice techniques, but I try to view each interaction as unique, and I try to keep aware of even slight differences throughout the practice.

BruceP wrote:In short, the drills I've developed are non-contextual, open-ended and serve no real purpose as far as martial skills development. The drills take an individual into a natural state ...

I guess that I do not understand because I do not have the benefits of these drills that you have developed.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby Steve Rowe on Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:53 pm

I once said to Toru Takamizawa that Karate was natural movement and he said "wrong, it's skilled movement done naturally, a big difference".
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby KEND on Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:38 am

Since being bipedal is 'unnatural' anything we do after crawling is unnatural. Along the way we learn to use tools, walk upright etc all unnatural but necessary to function in a modern world. In doing so we may cause smaller muscle groups to atrophy, internal work brings back a more complete body movement rather than isolating movements to one part of the body.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby BruceP on Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:04 pm

Yeah

We have to work with our imperfect form. We gotta use our personal asymmetry and imbalance as our true balance and all that. Like the way we use tools, and do other tasks with a preferred side. None of that is relevant to the topic, though. But then again, it is.

'Internal' work has points of entry that can be found in the weaknesses and compensations that people possess coming into tjq and other types of physical cultures which purport to help people reclaim or discover their "more complete body movement".

What has always struck me as odd is that 'teachers' of the various types of physical culture start making 'corrections' right of the bat without regard for how people got to where they are in their current state. Their current state is their most 'natural' state, after all. Why not work with that? Applying Neutrality Principle from the outset...
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby BruceP on Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:33 pm

LaoDan wrote:Thanks Bruce,

I may just be dense, but even though I think that I understand this intellectually, I still do not see it as being easy to successfully translate into practice... I want to maintain mental, emotional, as well as physical neutrality when interacting with others...

But this is like saying “act without ego” (i.e. neutral) which is intellectually understandable, but difficult to do...

I intellectually understand the idea behind forgetting oneself and merely following the opponent, but...


Intellectual neutrality is what the drills are meant to create more than anything else - at least on the first day.

I seem to be missing something when you state that:
BruceP wrote:The "common way of reacting against aggression" aint so common when you consider the individual's personal threshold and perceptual catalyst(s) of those 'reactions'. I make a clear distinction between reaction and response. Reaction is what you 'think' you should do and response is what you do without thinking.

Much of what humans do as either reaction or response seem to be incorrect, and need training to correct. You seem to imply that “response” would be correct whereas “reactions” are often wrong?? This point is not sufficiently clear for me to understand


There is no right or wrong on the first day. The way a person responds in the drills and solo work is what it is. Creating intellectual neutrality is the goal so they're not thinking about the movement or wondering if they're doing it the way they're being shown, or if they're emulating the movement as it's being demonstrated. Those thoughts can't be present if responsiveness is to be free and easy.
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Re: When form is doin` you

Postby Tom on Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:32 pm

BruceP wrote:The "common way of reacting against aggression" aint so common when you consider the individual's personal threshold and perceptual catalyst(s) of those 'reactions'. I make a clear distinction between reaction and response. Reaction is what you 'think' you should do and response is what you do without thinking. Sure, you can train yourself to react without thought in sparring and what have you by drilling those reactions into your movement. Nothing wrong with that. But that's the path of prescribed method that tjq is supposed to lead one away from. It's like nailing one foot to the floor.


SIDEBAR: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-fighter-pilots-know-quick-reactions-losers-tim-davies

‘I plan for the 6th order effect and I do it in about half a second.’

If I had heard that from anyone other than another fighter pilot, I would’ve laughed them out of the room but, from my buddy, Jim - I knew it was true.

I flown with him many times before. He was the kind of guy that radios weren’t invented for - he just didn’t need to use them. I knew what he was thinking before he’d even thought it because we’d both been trained in exactly the same way. We’d gone through flying training together and even served on the same front-line squadron; his actions were fluid, predictable and, when leading other aircraft in dynamic situations, was very much appreciated by other pilots.

But, Jim was in trouble.

He was explaining to a young Air Traffic Control Officer why he had gone against their direction - a serious offence.

He looked over at me - not for reassurance - he was annoyed and I understood why.

If you haven’t spent the last two decades flying military fast jets, you’d be forgiven for thinking that fighter pilots must have amazing reactions to do what they do.

But, it’s not true.

My reactions are probably just as good as yours, I’m now over 40 and they might even be worse. But, that’s OK as I do something that you probably don’t.

I know to ‘respond’ and not to ‘react’.

Years of instructing in flying training and exposure to situations that require critical thinking in demanding environments, have taught me that to ‘react’, is to die.

I’ve seen it countless times in young, inexperienced aviators and normally it’s because they haven’t had a plan for the event they’ve encountered.
•The junior pilot who fails to monitor his fuel usage on his early combat sorties and only just makes it back on fumes.
•The young instructor who, sensing something wrong with her aircraft, puts out a ‘MAYDAY’ call, forcing her to engage in a dialogue with air traffic and robbing her of cognitive capacity.
•Or, the student who flies into a cloud filled valley without thinking of an escape option.

A few years back, Jim and I were flying a low-level navigation route and working hard on a target run when we hit a bird…

*BANG*

The cockpit was silent.

Jim was flying, I was in the back-seat and, as the jet slowly climbed away from the ground, we could both feel it starting to shudder.

When a fighter jet starts to shake, it’s normally the sign of an engine that is deciding if it should stay as one big bit or become one million smaller bits, in a very short amount of time.

‘Looking…’ he called calmly from the front-seat as he set about trying to diagnose the emergency.

‘Prestwick is 320/15 miles.’ I replied, detailing our nearest airfield.

Sure enough, the shaking increased and pretty soon a big RED caption illuminated showing us that the engine was, indeed, trying to cook itself.

It’s the sort of thing it does when a seagull attempts to fly-through the compressor blades at about 500 mph.

‘Surge, attempting relight.’ he calmly stated, informing me that the engine was no longer producing power and that he was shutting it down.

The only one we had…

…we’d just become a 6 tonne glider.

‘Roger.’ I replied as I got out the Flight Reference Cards checklist in anticipation of a full ‘Engine Relight’ drill.

I felt the throttle slam back to the ‘Cut-Off’, starving the engine of the fuel that was promoting it’s unhealthy state. As Jim pitched the jet’s nose high into the clear sky above, trading speed for height, I knew we were about to enter controlled airspace, unannounced.

And, that’s a bad thing.

‘Clear the flight path and nobody’s going to die,’ I thought - no need to distract Jim with this right now, he has more important things to do.

By now, all non-essential aircraft systems were being taken off-line as the aircraft prioritised its own survival. A smaller engine called a Gas Turbine Starter was automatically fired-up which would power the electrics and a tiny little windmill, called a Ram Air Turbine, was thrust into the airflow to drive the hydraulics which would keep us flying.

Engine RPM was falling, as was our airspeed which had reduced from 450 to 180 knots in just 30 seconds.

‘Let me know when you’re happy, Jim.’ I called.

‘OK, speed stable, RPM falling - go for it, buddy!’

‘Roger.’

And, with that I finally pressed the button.

‘MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, Victor Yankee Tango 61, MAYDAY.’

‘MAYDAY 61, this is Guard, steer 320 for Prestwick, 12 miles, call intentions,’ came the immediate reply.

‘MAYDAY 61 is a Hawk T1 out of RAF Valley, 2 Persons on Board, 12 miles south-east of Prestwick at 5,000 ft IN controlled airspace, squawking emergency, inbound for any runway - engine failure, attempting relight - standby.’

Silence.

I’d asked ‘Guard’, the military UK emergency agency, to ‘standby’ to give us time to action the remaining drill. I knew that the controller would now phone Prestwick Air Traffic Control and tell them that they had an engine-less, six-tonne Hawk inbound with a couple of guys who were about to cancel their RSPB* memberships.

I could see that the engine RPM was stagnating below 20% and there probably wasn’t time for a full relight.

‘Harness - Tight and Locked, Visor - Down…’ I called as I started to run through the ‘Pre-meditated Ejection’ checklist.

‘RPM’s slowly climbing,’ said Jim as I too noted that the engine was indeed attempting to restart. If it failed, we’d be abandoning the aircraft and I could already see that Jim was turning towards an area of wasteland in anticipation.

‘MAYDAY 61, all runways at Prestwick available, crash crews on standby, contact Prestwick tower on this frequency.’

‘Well, that’s the engine almost back,’ called Jim from the front seat, ‘but I’m not convinced she wants to be back right now.’

‘OK, let’s go to Prestwick for tea,’ I replied, as the jet continued to vibrate it’s unhappiness to us both.

So, why didn’t we panic when our engine swallowed a Seagull and decided to throw a compressor blade out of the exhaust?

Because, we both had about 4,000 hours of military aviation between us and we knew that to react to the birdstrike could well have put us in a far worse state.

The first rule of any aircraft emergency is…

…DO NOTHING.

It sounds counter-intuitive but the key is just to ‘sit on your hands’ and observe what is happening. In the Tornado GR4, a spurious caption could be the beginning of something far more serious such as a rear-fuselage fire or an un-contained engine failure - to rush in could make things far worse.

What we are buying ourselves is ‘thinking time’.

If, on hearing the ‘BANG’ of the birdstrike, I’d jumped onto the radio and called for help, my world would have been immediately filled with multiple air traffic agencies offering their support. Every aircraft in the near vicinity, would also have offered to help.

Now, I’m dealing with a complicated emergency and also trying to talk to a lot of people who can do NOTHING to help me.

If the jet’s going to explode, it’s going to explode - there is nothing that air traffic can do that will stop that happening.

A reaction is instant.

It’s driven by the beliefs and biases of the unconscious mind. When you ‘react’ to something, that’s the unconscious mind jumping in, it doesn’t take into account long-term effects. It’s based on our necessity to survive from when we used to have to run from Sabre-Toothed Tigers and is there to keep us alive as part of our defence mechanism.

A ‘response’, however, is more thought-out. It’s takes into account information from our conscious and unconscious mind, balancing it all and weighing everything up. A response considers the longer-term events or, as Jim put it, the ‘4th, 5th and 6th order effects’.

Jim was programmed to ‘respond’, even if it meant the loss of the aircraft in the immediacy following the birdstrike but, it wasn’t just this that had saved the aircraft - Jim had something else on his side.

Planning.

Jim had planned for a birdstrike long before he ever hit the bird.

Jim had thought about it when we had planned the flight 3 hours before. He had then explained in the pre-flight brief what he would do around various parts of the route should he hit a bird and what airfields he would use should he lose the engine.

It was something he’d practised in the simulator hundreds of times before.

Everything that happens in jet flying is planned. Every possible scenario has a prescribed response that has been thought about in the cold light of day, away from the pressures of the cockpit - nothing is left to chance.

Jim HAD A PLAN.

Most people DON’T have a plan.

It’s true.

And, this means that when life happens to them, as it has a nasty habit of doing, people will ‘react’ - often causing the situation to worsen.

‘If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.’ - Yogi Berra
•The young man who decides to assault a guy who was ‘chatting up’ his girlfriend, ending up with a custodial sentence from a court case that he never expected.
•The wife who posts her husbands infidelity all over social media thus making any chance at reconciliation, unlikely.
•Or, the middle-manager who tells his boss EXACTLY what he thinks of him before ending up at the Job Centre, the wrong side of 50, and with 10 years of a mortgage still left to pay.

Planning means to think things through before they happen - it means thinking about how you are going to respond to things.

If you are a little overweight and decide to start a new fitness regime of running first thing in the morning, you have a much higher chance of success if you lay out your running gear on your bedroom floor the night before.

It means that you are PLANNING to remove the ‘hassle’ factor in the morning.

When a young airman or woman goes through basic training, they will often get picked up for the smallest of things such as a button that is undone, a loose thread on their jumper or a bed that’s been poorly made.

They will complain about the pettiness of it all, they will get angry at being punished and they will wonder why their instructors don’t just concentrate on the things that ‘really’ matter, instead.

It’s only when they get into the later stages of training that they start to understand that, in order to do the more advanced things in the military, you have to have mastered the basics.

Because the details matter.

Paying attention to a button being undone means you’re more likely to check that the safety catch of your weapon is on when doing a forced night march in freezing cold rain at 3 in the morning.

It teaches you to think of the ‘what ifs’ or the ‘actions on’.

If my button is undone then the staff will punish us all and I won’t get to home at the weekend, everyone will hate me and my boyfriend will go to the pub without me and might meet someone else.

If I don’t check my safety catch on the range because I neglected the basics, I might fire a round off accidentally and kill one of my buddies.

It’s all about the planning - this is what is being taught by the instructors ‘pettiness’.

When the stoics, Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, used to sit around thinking about whether to watch another YouTube video or build a Spotify playlist, they also liked to involve themselves in something called the ‘Premeditation of evils’ (or ‘premeditatio malorum’, if you’d prefer the Latin).

It’s also called the ‘Inversion Technique’ and is a process that gives prior consideration to events that might happen BEFORE they actually do happen.
•‘What if my house floods, do I have anything that I’d need to save and do I have insurance?’
•‘What if I fail to get the grades to get into my chosen university, do I have another one in mind?’
•‘What if I lose my job, do I have enough money in reserve to live on whilst I find another?’

Thinking out these questions in advance allows you to ‘respond’ calmly to the event rather than ‘react’ inappropriately to it.

And, that’s pretty much what Jim had just ‘taught’ the young air traffic controller who had attempted to lecture him about not contacting them sooner and for flying into controlled airspace, unannounced.

Next time you’re in the office and feel the need to ‘react’ to something someone’s done, just think about two experienced pilots in a badly damaged aircraft, responding to a serious emergency.

Breathe and be aware of your breathing, it calms you down - take a step back, learn all the facts and assess.

Use language to defuse the situation - ‘I will have to think about how to RESPOND to that.’

Be aware of the other person, you don’t know what kind of day they are having - don’t jump in with solutions, just allow the moment to pass - then you can respond.

Think about events that might cause you to ‘react’ and plan for them.

If you don't plan your life, I guarantee someone will plan it for you!

So, now you know why you don’t need quick reactions to be a fighter pilot and that ‘to react’ will often be the wrong thing to do. Learn to plan ahead and to ‘respond’ to life’s difficulties and you’ll minimise your chance of failure and maximise your chance of having a well-balanced and successful life.

‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’ - Benjamin Franklin

*Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (I think I’ve been banned…)
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.

---Vernon Law
Tom
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