Blog Archives

“Race, Shame and Self-defence” by Sam Yang

I love Sam Yang‘s blog. He writes very interesting and thoughtful articles. This article discusses the subtle and poorly understood social challenges of being part of a minority group in the colonial mentality of the anglosphere, and perspectives on the racial hierarchy. Well worth a read.

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#racerelations #race #racism #colonialism #martialarts
 
On survival:
“Martial arts work in isolated situations, but when the danger is systemic, then one must hold on to the principles, rather than the physical techniques. When fighting perceptions, there is no solitary “bad guy” to defeat.”
 
On understanding the perspective of a minority:
“Because if you are at the top of the institutional food chain, you may not sense the same dangers. That is good for you, but you are not the whole of the collective experience.”
 
On racial biases and stereotyping:
“Often people will relate to us in the only ways they know how, they relate to us based on our race — as if we were the representative of a whole people and not individuals.”
 
On falsely imagining racial diversity:
“The two common types I have found in the US are, liberal and conservative, and everything must fit into one or the other, no overlap. Everything then becomes mutually exclusive. Racial diversity is often tossed into the liberal bin, so people assume if a city is liberal, it must have racial diversity.”
 
On false equivalence in “reverse racism”:
“There is a difference between being bullied and institutional oppression. There is common ground but thinking it is exactly the same is a false equivalence.”
 
On recognising the differences between equality and equity:
“We cannot close that gap if we pretend things are the same. If two people run at the same speed, the person who started out in the lead will stay in the lead. To catch up, the person in the back will have to run twice as hard. Equality is nothing without equity. These are not complicated ideas; we can float these thoughts in our heads. We just may not want to if it does not work out in our favor. A quality of a civilized culture is that of empathy. Survival of the fittest is natural, but it is also primitive. The very existence of medicine is a challenge to the survival of the fittest, yet a civilized society means giving everyone a chance at life. That is what civilization is consistently working towards.”
 
On dealing with an inescapable reality:
“Race is one of those identifiers that is immutable — people will just know, which makes it the hardest thing to see past.”
 
On oversimplified racial stereotypes:
“Simplifying a minority group as always “good” or right, is exchanging paternalism with infantilization. It is reducing a group to a stereotype when there is a wholeness to people. Some people are good, some are not, some are right, some are wrong — the same wholeness that exists for the majority group.”
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Real Health vs Western Medicine

In response to the article “The Healthiest Old Person on the Planet.

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Real health lies in optimising the vastly under-utilized, yet essential and natural areas of diet and fitness, not western medicine, which should ideally be reserved primarily for dealing with circumstances of last resort, and less as a system of sustaining chronic illness. There is a significant lack of interest in implementing preventive lifestyle measures in public health and correcting the overall physical robustness of the population.

I’ve worked on my diet, worked on getting as functionally fit as possible, worked on correcting my posture, worked on correcting psychological issues, and worked on improving the quality of my social circle and environment over the last few years, among other things. I recently had an eye test, my eyesight has improved slightly. I look as young or younger than I did ten years ago. I am a superior being to what I was before.

In our most basic state, we are merely animals with opposable thumbs and slightly thicker cerebral cortexes; we must respect our primitive nature, and connection to nature, in order to maximise our potential. The key factors essential to our health, at the centre of our primitive nature, is how we connect to our sources of food, and the mobility of our physical bodies.

‪#‎Health‬ ‪#‎diet‬ ‪#‎fitness‬ ‪#‎ageing‬ ‪#‎westernmedicine‬ ‪#‎preventivehealth‬‪#‎personaldevelopment‬ ‪#‎selfimprovement‬

MENTAL HEALTH: A WORD ON DEPRESSION AND MENTAL ILLNESS

In the wake of Robin Williams recent suicide, many questions have come to mind regarding the veracity of the current public understanding of what depression and mental illness is about.

I just want to say a few things in regards to my own experience and how I have dealt with it. It isn’t really about the issues themselves, but more about how one might deal with them if they arise.

It’s difficult to understand mental illness if you don’t know the depth and incredible complexity of the human mind… for example, it has only been through many hours, over many years, of psychoanalysis and psychology counselling have I begun to understand the depth and root cause of my own issues, which might manifest, via convoluted mental pathways, into unusual or awkward behaviors and thought patterns. The deeper I probe, the more complex I realise things are, and how justifiable it is to put in as much effort as I do to understand them.

If it’s difficult for me to understand, with quite a high level of personal insight and a fairly high level of education in and exposure to health and psychology, can you imagine how much more difficult it might be with someone who hasn’t had the benefit of that additional perspective?

So, based what I have learned from my own experiences with limiting psychological issues (and really, these principles can apply to life in general) I would suggest the following ideas as things to consider for a healthier mental state:

1) Seek the Right Environment
Be around the right people, influences, and things you want to see and do. I realise, having moved cities and away from communities I was previously involved in and tied to (personally or professionally) that a LOT of my negative views of the world were very strongly influenced by the experiences I had from being surrounded by (for want of a better term) complete assholes. Now that I have made better decisions to whom I associate with, I am much happier, more positive, leading a much more fulfilling existence, and am not depressed.

2) Seek Self-efficacy
People tend to remain in their default, socially engineered state, for better or worse, if they do not actively seek to change their path. Change must first be desired; the first change that needs to happen is to make the change to want to change. There needs to be some level of self recognition or insight in order to effect progress away from a negative mindset. Self education and playing an active role in disciplining your mind and altering your thought patterns, makes a major difference in the likelihood of changing for the better.

3) Seek the Right Assistance
As much as self-efficacy is a golden goose of progress, there are some things that we can achieve much better insight into through broadening our limited perspectives to include the perspectives of others. These are people who will take the time to listen, understand and offer objective opinions without judgement; perhaps leading to an epiphany of personal understanding that you alone could not grasp. For many, you may have family or friends to reach out to; for others, there are government initatives and organisations such as beyondblue, headspace; for those who can afford it, there are health professionals.

4) Seek the Right Path Early in Life
Once again, however, I would emphasise the importance of creating the best possible environments and influences for our vulnerable and impressionable youth. They are the future of the world, and are an empty canvas painted with the brush of whatever paradigm of reality they are presented with. It is our responsibility to help these younger generations become better than we are, rather than perpetuating any questionable habits out of failure to account for and consider the merit (or lack thereof) our own habits.

For the older the mind, the greater the struggle to change, if precedents created in childhood have set us on a journey to destruction.

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SOME THOUGHTS ON MARTIAL ARTS/COMBAT SPORTS

Just heard on a tv promo “Will learning violent contact sports make life safer on the streets?” while showing a clip of some thugs fighting on the street and then a BJJ gym. #stupidquestions

Obviously #combatsports and #martialarts are healthy way to discipline and control #naturalaggression and learn #respect but these days everyone wants a scientific study before they believe anything.

Of course there are always the few bad eggs who will not benefit as much, and this is probably because other aspects of their persona have not been dealt with adequately, but that is not to say that martial arts training has not helped them from being worse than they would have been.

For the majority the benefits of martial arts in strengthening and controlling mind/body/soul are immense. It’s time the public became more educated and aware about what #martialarts and combat sports are really about, instead of marginalising it as simple “violence”… #violence is for untrained neanderthals.

In the end we are all just a few millimetres of cerebral cortex away from being a hairless monkey, and without harnessing our human capacity for imagination and self awareness, that additional cortical matter isn’t worth a whole lot.

Martial arts are just that… “arts”… they connect your human imagination to your animal soul, control it, and channel that natural animal aggression into it something beautiful, flowing and precise. It can crash into destructive force, it can bend the opponent to submit to your will, but the skilled practitioner knows and learns how and when and to what degree it is required.

That is the difference between the depth of an “art”, and the indiscriminate, mindless chaos of “violence”.

It does not promise mastery or victory, but it does demand the discipline, respect, skill, determination and pure hard work required to achieve it. These are the attributes and habits that one will be driven to cultivate, if they are not already possessed to some degree.

It may be true that there are some who will never be able to fully embody these characteristics, no matter how much they train, but this is nonetheless this is the potential for empowerment and greatness that martial arts will offer you.

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(From Adrien Grenier’s Facebook)

SOCIAL ANXIETY: AN ANALOGY

AN ANALOGY: Dealing with SOCIAL ANXIETY is like learning to swim. If you’re worried about how cold the water is when you hit the surface, then you won’t get in, will never get comfortable with getting wet and never swim well. 

But once you force yourself past that troublesome barrier with a dive or pindrop, the initially uncomfortable feeling of shock when entering that cold water, start to warmup and move around, you may start to even enjoy it.

Even if swimming isn’t your thing, the more you push past that barrier, and the more you try, the easier it gets, and the more you can allow yourself to get comfortable with swimming, which you could not access before because of that disdain aand avoidance of the discomfort of the transition from dry to wet.

Like social situations, your sticking point may be getting past that coldness, and that transition from disengaged to engaged in the social situation. The more practice you get, the colder the water you can tolerate.

Just like with anything, training yourself to do this is all about repetition and internalising new habits.