Sunday, October 31, 2010


The first time we worked on sprawling, I didn't quite understand what it meant. Sensei had us pair off and practice what seemed to me like a jumping-on-each-other drill. That isn't what sprawling is, but I remember thinking to myself, "The last time I jumped on someone, I was shorter and at least ten years younger than I am now". Needless to say, I was hesitant about learning.

Not only was I hesitant about learning, but when I finally learned what sprawling is for (keeping yourself from being thrown by dropping your weight directly on your opponent and shooting your legs out behind you to widen your base), I was hesitant to do it the right way. I didn't really want to drop my weight on my partner.What if I found out that they couldn't support me and we both ended up getting hurt? I didn't want that. The point was to stop my partner, not kill them.

I still have trouble with it sometimes. I'm doing my best to just do it, but I've gotta be the weirdest martial arts person ever. I'll do pretty much anything to keep from hurting someone, even if it's detrimental to my training. Or at least, I used to be that way. I'm growing. Learning. Figuring out that I truly can rely on my classmates and Sensei to not let me hurt them. Accidents happen, but not so frequently that I should be as worried as I often get.

Anyway, this post is about trust. Martial arts has taught me a LOT of things, but trust is one of the biggest, most important lessons that I've had the privilege to learn about and improve on. From the first lesson I took, up until now, I've had to learn how to trust people in many different circumstances. There's physical trust, such as trusting my classmates to keep their guard up so I won't hurt them and to do their best not to hurt me; to practice with me like they mean it and to be able to hold my weight when I sprawl.

There's mental trust, like trusting them to treat me well and to help me learn; to not laugh at me when I mess up or otherwise embarrass myself; to be courteous and constructive; and to expect me to do the same for them.

And there's another kind of trust that I can't quite figure out how to articulate. This is the kind of trust that a team shares; trust that others around me who are learning the same thing will understand on a deeper level than anyone else the importance of training and how it applies to life. It's the kind of trust that people share when they have a common goal.

Anyway, I've learned that it isn't easy to trust; it must be earned. And the circumstances through which it can be earned must be genuine and pure. Sprawling gives me trouble sometimes. It's hard to let go and to trust someone other than yourself. But being alone, in my experience, is much more difficult...even if it seems easier. You miss so much when you practice by yourself. There are things in martial arts that only another human can help you to understand. Without people to help you train, you severely limit yourself. You can't sprawl by yourself.

Without people in your life, you can't lean on anyone. You have to do everything by yourself. Sometimes you're successful at that, but when something comes up that you can't handle alone, you need someone to help you up off the mat. And that requires taking a hand that's being held out. That requires trust. And trust requires courage.

Fall seven times, stand up eight. But you don't have to stand up by yourself. If you can stand up with someone else, you'll be that much more sturdy and strong.

Sprawling will become easier as I learn to trust more. Perhaps all I need to practice.

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