Embrace the Blade!

RDF-Aug2013This past weekend was our semi-annual Haidong Gumdo seminar with USA Chief Master Marshall Parnell (Lotus Blossom School of Martial Arts). As usual, he presented quality technique and insightful lessons about personal development.

During the training, the temperature rose high enough to cause the mercury vapor lights to go out – twice. Our school is within a charter school which has a decent sized gymnasium. Minnesota schools tend to lack air conditioning since they weren’t expected to be used in the summer. Now, add to that, September temperatures of 95°+ and you have a very uncomfortable weekend of training.

One of the lessons from the weekend has been coined “Embrace the Blade”. It has become a way to describe handling and dealing with the unpleasant. He commented that, as a Recon Marine, he marched in ugly weather, mud, deserts, etc. When they got to the point when no one wanted to continue, they would start joking or telling stories. The effect was a dramatic change in their mindset. The mindset change made them able to survive, even thrive.

Today, I came across this TED talk – Kelly McGonigal: “How to make stress your friend”. I think it is an excellent continuity of our weekend lessons.

Chief Master Parnell’s lecture focused on taking up the challenge of training (the Blade). He asked if we could twist our minds enough to view the heat, the training, the physical stress, the mental stress as an enjoyable challenge. After all, those who attended had already voluntarily traded their weekend of potential relaxation to be there.

In fact, it was while driving to teach classes tonight that I had a related idea. Master Parnell mentioned that his summer had been full of events including the Spartan Run and the Ragnar Relay and a family friend had run the Warrior Dash while we were at seminar. These clicked to make me wonder why these kind of events came about. Bigger than that, though, is wondering why people will consider these great challenges and even pay to participate but want to quit when lesser challenges happen during their lives.

I am very grateful to Master Parnell and his insights. The consistent reminder that training is for life, not actually sword fighting, and the sword is only a tool to help develop yourself. Thank you, Sir!

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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