The Art Of Not Giving A S***! (Or . . . Accept As Is)

Many Oriental philosophies talk about mind, body and spirit; as they recognise that the 3 are all intrinsically connected. For the sake of this post, I’ll be mainly focussing on the mind and body.

If one tenses, the other tenses. You tighten your mind, your body will start to tense; you tighten your body, your mind will start to tense. Conversely, you relax one, the other will relax.

So when you make a mistake, or don’t perform a technique/kata/pattern the way you want to, or you get corrected by your instructor; don’t get upset about it. If you do get upset (even if its just with yourself), your mind will tense, then your body will tighten and the whole thing gets progressively more and more difficult. I have one student in particular who gets exasperated with himself every time I correct him. It’s not that he resents the correction in any way, he very desperately wants to get it right and his frustration is aimed at himself (rather than me)! Then it becomes even more difficult.

You have to try to the best of your ability to do it right, but when you don’t, you have to learn how not to give a sh . . . . damn!

Now this may seem contradictory at first glance, but let me elaborate.
You should care about getting it right and doing it as well as you can, but don’t care about the fact that you’ve made a mistake. Just use the mistake as a learning experience to help you get it better next time. By not caring that you’ve made a mistake, you don’t tense the mind, hence you don’t tense the body!

Not caring that you’ve made a mistake, is not the same as not wanting to get it right. It’s not the same as just giving in and stop trying. It’s not same as not giving your best effort to get right. It’s just a state of acceptance that you’ve made a mistake. And acceptance is a very important life skill!

Me emotionally resisting being hit by my mate Keith!

The more you emotionally resist any situation in your life (be it martial arts training, your job, relationship, where you live, how much you earn, whatever) the more you drain your mental capacity to do something about it!

Read that last sentence again; the more you emotionally resist any situation in your life, the more you drain your mental capacity to do something about it!

Emotional resistance (non acceptance) to any life situation is stress - one of the worst diseases of the modern world. Simply “accepting what is”, is a very simple concept but can be very hard to apply.

Now just to clarify, I’m not suggesting that you simply accept a given situation, (or failure to perform a technique correctly) for the rest of life; I’m saying that you accept that this is the situation NOW, at this present moment in time. Simply accepting current circumstances (your situation/your life/your job/your relationship/the mistake you’ve made in training) suddenly removes all the stress from your life. With all the stress removed, you now have much more mental capacity to deal with the situation and put it right.

Simple isn’t it? Well, it’s a simple concept, but can be hard to apply! Like anything else, it can take practice, but it can be very rewarding when you do.

Now I want to look at 3 different paradigms for getting what you want: (don’t worry all will become clear):

Neuro Linguistic Programming: Developed as an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy in the 1970s. One of it’s key principles is focusing all your minds attention on what you really want. For example, you want to give up smoking? If you focus on giving up smoking, you are always thinking about smoking! Giving up smoking is not what you ultimately want; you ultimately want to be healthier. Giving up smoking is the means to that end, so focus your mind on being healthier.

Religion: Most religions tell you to pray for what you want. Basically, you ask God to give it to you! The Bible actually says (and I paraphrase), pray for what you want, then feel gratitude for it as if you already have it.

New Age/Spiritual/Zen: New age/spiritual people often talk about sending their energy to a given subject/situation. They also often talk about The Law Of Attraction, which means that you attract more into your life of what you habitually think about! Or as some would say, whatever the state of your energy/vibration, you attract circumstances into your life of a similar energy/vibration.

Moksu (Meditation)

Now I’m not going to argue that any paradigm is better or more valid then any other (and I’ll ask that you don’t either please as I don’t want distracting arguments). But when it comes down to it, they are basically saying the same thing. Being in the “vibration” of what you want to attract is the same as being “grateful” as if you already have what you have prayed for. It’s also the same as focusing your mind on what you really do want rather than what you don’t want.

So back to the accepting what is (your current situation). None of the above paradigms tell you to feel bad about what you don’t have or can’t do! It’s all about feeling good! It’s all about being in a state of gratitude, or the vibration of what you want to achieve/have or purposefully focusing your mind on what we want rather than don’t want.

So every major philosophy for self development/betterment is basically saying the same thing, though using a different paradigm to explain it.

So going back to the original topic of not giving a damn when you make a mistake in training; if you do get frustrated you take yourself out of that state of gratitude and you focus you mind on what you do NOT want. To put it right stay in the vibration of grateful as if you can already do it!

A famous experiment was conducted years ago. Three groups of people tried shooting balls through a basket ball hoop and the scores recorded. One group did nothing more, one group practiced and the third group did not practice but simply visualised shooting the baskets. Then try were retested. Now I can’t remember the exact figures but it was something like this. The group that didn’t practice made no improvement. The group that practiced improved about 25%. The group that didn’t practice at all but visualised, improved by about 24%.

That is amazing when you think about it. The most important factor towards the improvement was simply the focusing of the mind on the desired outcome. Remember, mind, body and spirit are linked!

Now the group that visualised, did not visualise missing. As they visualised scoring, they would feel the joy (vibration/gratitude) of succeeding. And putting themselves in that positive mental state gave the results. That’s why I say, “accept what is”, and release the emotional resistance/stress; and like the visualising group, your mind is freer to find a solution.

This is why when I teach Midsomer Norton Karate classes, I never tell students of for making a mistake. Maybe for lack of effort, but never for making a mistake. I will give constructive feedback and encouragement, but never a telling off!



Multiply your effectiveness with more impact for less effort and where to hit for best effect.

Bonus: Historical look at Bassai Dai, one of Karate’s most pivotal katas




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