"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

Philosophical and experiential notes on Nothingness, with supporting insights from martial arts, quantum physics and Taoism


11 May 2013

Finding the middle way


So often when we are attacked in life, we either meet the attack with a forceful response, or we cringe and cower. It's an all or nothing approach. And in many cases, people only know one or the other of these polar opposite responses. Clearly, there are times when these responses are effective, but there is an entire world of other responses, found in the middle, which are often overlooked. It's as though we think our planet is only made up of the north and south pole, and ignore the great body of earth that lies between them.

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art known to be a defensive art, an Art of Self Defense. Not all martial arts share this perspective; some arts attack, others defend. While defense is the basis of Jiu Jitsu, it can also attack. But one of the great values of Jiu Jitsu is its ability to modulate, what we might call the great playground between the north and south poles.

For example, when we are in a call and response situation, some martial artists only know one response: to meet force with equal or greater force. This can just as easily happen in arguments and disagreements. Jiu Jitsu can certainly attack. But it also has an ability to modulate, to meet an attack with a 0-100% response, or anywhere in between, with control. Jiu Jitsu reveals a world of responses in the middle - between 0% and 100%. 


The 'middle' is one of those words that has been hijacked to mean 'compromise', or to mean 50% conservative/50% liberal, etc. These are watered-down versions of a genuine and valuable centered approach. A more centered approach is similar to balancing on a bicycle; tip too far to the left or right and the ride becomes wobbly and unstable. 

We tend to view our world in black and white, on or off. "Light switches only go on or off," we state with genuine conviction - but we leave out the world of the dimmer switch.

When we drive our cars, our foot modulates on the gas pedal. If we deployed an all-or-nothing approach driving a car, we'd quickly crash. So, it's not as though we are unaware of the world of the 'middle'. In my opinion, it's more like we don't take the time to consider finding the middle or a more balanced approach in other areas of life.