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The advantage of a box - Gidon Sagher

עודכן ב: 1 אוג 2019

In the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there is absolutely no use of hitting with hands or any kind of kicking. Since this is a method of combat, it would seem that this limits the method and practitioners from being useful, effective, and having a broad and realistic perspective of combat.

Perhaps the question arises: why limit the scope of possibilities of action (for that field) ahead of time? Is it not preferable to learn a broader combat method that has a wider selection of actions in order to beat an enemy?

These questions are prevalent amongst novice students, and they are used as marketing strategy for many combat methods of the “we know and teach what happens on the street” types.

Personally, the question of the practicality of jiu jitsu does not concern me at all, but I will address that question later.

I want to discuss the reasons for outlining clear rules and guidelines for jiu jitsu.

We flourish and grow all of the time, but our day to day life places various stimuli from different areas usually in a moderate way, that in them there is no meaningful and fast effect for most of our decisions and reactions. Even if after a while there are implications for our actions, it is very easy to forget or to relate the outcome to the action in a mistaken or imprecise way. Since it is so easy to forget or mistake the implications of most of our routine activities, the question does not arise: how can we improve how we perform actions?

The question will arise when an unwanted result is experienced immediately and clearly.

In order to enable our actions to have fast and clear consequences, the boundaries of action must be narrowed. We must focus ourselves in a sterile playing environment and accept the rules of the game within it. I imagine that it is also possible to win in a game of chess if a player cheats or turns the board, but according to the rules of chess this is not considered a victory, and it would be foolish to see it any differently. Or at the very least, whoever sees this as a victory will never know how to play chess.

A chess player takes upon themself the rules and the guidelines of the game. The knight can move to one of the squares adjacent to the square on which it is located, but not to the same column, row, or diagonal square relative to the square it is on. The game pieces must be moved in turns, and so on.

Though the rules limit the possibilities of action they are focused on the player and require him to have ingenuity and deep thinking “inside the box” of the rules of the game, and the game in return gives the player a mirror, and a quick and exact choice for a correct or erroneous reaction. Together with pleasure, of course. Skill in chess can develop within the rules of chess. More precisely, every skill is acquired within the “box” of that skill itself. That is to say, in order to go deeper and perfect skills in certain situations, we must cause those same situations to appear as frequently and in as many different variations as possible over time. Restricting the field increases the frequency of those situations. Without restricting the field, perhaps the situation will not happen at all or when the situation does arise, I will not have control over it. The joke that “a specialist knows more and more about less and less until he know everything about everything” points this out with humor.

Another advantage of the “box” is that it enables action and thought outside of it. In order to think outside of the box, there still needs to be a box.

From here I want to touch on the practicality of jiu jitsu. In order for martial arts to be related to combat, it is necessary to choose a series of rules and guidelines that have authentic environmental friction and to practice within that framework of rules. Despite that, when a set of rules and guidelines are defined in an artificial way (as a result of safety, lack of understanding, superstitions, engaging in traditional patterns of movement), one can acquire the benefits of improved skill, but it does not necessarily follow that the combat aspect would improve

because in combat the resistance of the attacker will always be authentic (supposing that the attacker did not make the same mistake).

A good example of that is all of the combat techniques that are practiced only against predetermined attacks and will never be used against authentic resistance in a fight. Therefore, substantial technical talents are visible on those with a low level of combat skill. It is true that the patterns of movement that they practice hinder even a spontaneous reaction.

The rules of the game that are reliant on authentic environmental friction, do not only improve the quality of martial art, they also refine and sometimes shatter the traditional and predetermined patterns of movement and provide us with an important lesson on honesty and the connection with reality that are fertile grounds for the spirit of truth.

Jiu jitsu, which deals with authentic environmental friction, even if it is limited, teaches us the principles of facing real resistance. Principles that can be thrown outside the box. Principles that reveal themselves only to those whose practice occurs within the box with persistence and with awareness over a long period of time. These principles will improve the position in combat without rules for two reasons: first, understanding the principles of combat in the face of real resistance that spreads chaos even when there are no rules. And second, that perhaps it is possible to lead the opponent into the box, where the advantage there is clear.

Practicing “realistic” martial arts, usually leads to a lack of understanding because it is not possible to practice them in and of itself with real resistance, for safety reasons, and therefore it is better to deepen them practically, ideally by training within a few boxes at the same time.

The gap between the flawed practice and the desired outcome, usually is filled unconsciously by myths and beliefs that are sometimes called “spirituality.” Spirituality that does not examine itself and relies on lack of understanding.

“Useful” martial arts without rules, lead to practice that lacks authentic environmental friction due to safety, that leads to irrelevant patterns of movement, that are likely to lead to a lack of sincerity and a lack of connection to the combative reality, that are explained as unfounded “spirituality.”

Martial arts like jiu jitsu, boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, judo, wrestling and so on - though they are limited to rules and guidelines, they are effective because of the options outside of their field, and they are more “realistic” than the realistic.

Beyond the combative surface of martial arts, healthy spirituality will grow in the spirit of truth and the connection with reality.

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