Friday, August 24, 2012

Ian Continues to Teach

Ian's son, Mike, provided a wonderful eulogy at Ian's funeral. He is a credit to his father in every way. Given my current interests, a couple of stories his son regaled the mourning masses with came to mind.

Mike told of the time when he held a party at his father's house and some male guests were throwing bottles at the wall of the house. Ian approached the lads and explained that he hoped that they had had a good time at the party but if they continued with their current actions, damage would ensue on their bodies. The lads decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

Mike also told of the time when his father stopped when being tailgated by some lads. Three lads got out of the car and approached Ian. Without Ian saying a word, the lads decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

How did Ian influence these testosterone fueled, societal motivated aggressive males who outnumbered this older man on each occasion?

Appraisal theory tells us that emotions (and subsequent behaviours) are evoked based on an unconscious, or conscious, assessment of our resources and abilities to deal with a threat. If we assess that our resources and abilities are sufficient to deal with a threat then we are confident and a particular emotion is evoked which is accompanied by a particular behaviour.

Was Ian confident in his resources and abilities to deal with the threat? In my unprofessional opinion, I would say that that was not a consideration.

I suspect that Ian had a resolve. A steely resolve. If this 'thing' was going to happen then he would engage in the process. There would have been no thought of outcome. He didn't weigh, consciously or unconsciously, whether or not he would prevail.

Confidence is a tricky thing. When you compare your resources and abilities to a threat, if the former outweighs the latter, you are confident which influences your actions. If your assessment falls short, you lack confidence and your actions reflect that lack of confidence. During a violent encounter, there is a constant reappraisal of your resources and abilities versus the threat. A steely resolve does not engage in that appraisal process.

There is another senior instructor at the school that was the Jan de Jong Self Defence School. He emphasises the 'warrior spirit' in both word and action. He is very proficient, physically strong and fast, and very aggressive. Who would I prefer to engage with, Ian or the unnamed senior instructor? The latter. Every day of the week. Why? Because I had a chance of defeating the unnamed senior instructor psychologically. That opportunity did not exist with Ian. Ian had a resolve. He didn't think about winning or losing, and therefore did not weigh resources and abilities against threats. He was going to engage to the best of his abilities, if he had to, and that was the end of the assessment process.

I believe this is the lesson you want to instill in your students. Forget confidence. Forget bravado. It's simply a steely resolve. Not to win or lose, but simply to engage with all of your resources and abilities. Let the outcome take care of itself.

... Interestingly enough, writing this post and reflecting on Ian's lesson is giving me the resolve to deal with a very intimidating issue that is currently having a major impact on my life. Thanks Lloydo. You continue to help me.

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