Black Belt


Let’s start with a quote from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “How ridiculous and strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life!”


Is your training sterile or infected? If you don’t know, you’d better make this piece the first one you read in this issue because it holds the key to making all your martial arts workouts more productive.

These words are culled from Meditation­s, a series of loose but connected notes he wrote to himself while struggling to stay the course as he conducted a long military campaign against German invaders who’d penetrated into Italy.

In context, Aurelius’ notes cover both the mundane (court matters and human interactio­ns) and the crushing ( battles). Yes, the battlefiel­d of the second century involved significan­tly more hardship than we encounter today. Neverthele­ss, those 13 words of wisdom are as valuable now as they were when he wrote them because they can shape the way we approach self-protection — provided we allow his pragmatism to direct our course where it may be lacking.

MORE OFTEN than not, when we engage in real-world drilling, it takes place in sterile conditions. In other words, it’s conducted inside a dojo at a prearrange­d time. For most of us, it’s hard to get around this portion of drilling sterility, and that’s OK. What’s worse, though, is that we often see sterility intrude into other aspects of our drilling that are most definitely under our control. If any portion of the short list presented below is a part of your routine, well, then, your drills just might be a bit sterile.

• You know the technique you’re defending against at least 80 percent of the time.

• You have a preselecte­d or assigned defensive move at least 80 percent of the time.

• You train in a gym at least 80 percent of the time.

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