Monday, September 1, 2008


"We defend our weaknesses, our compensations, our insecurities, and our delusions tooth and nail."
- Me, Clover Park Tai-Chi class... 8/23/08

When it comes to the workings of the human body, there are two people who've revolutionized my thought processes - Pavel Tsatsouline & Gray Cook. If you've been following this blog at all, you have a decent idea of who both of those men are.

Gray has been known to say that "The most talented athletes aren't necessarily the ones who have perfect movement screens, but are often the ones who compensate for their shortcomings better than the rest."

He went on to say ominously, "But that doesn't mean they're the most durable if their movement screen scores are low."

It's that same way for people in general. The people who are often the most successful or the most wealthy or the strongest or the most famous or the most vociferous aren't always the people with the best internal set-up. Oftentimes, we're the people who are just better at compensating than others.

To give you an example, I'm going to speak about one of my acquaintances. To maintain total anonymity, I'll refer to him/her as "Them". Gosh,.... sounds awfully southern, don't it, y'all?

Them's one of the nicest people you'll ever met. Them likes to think of themself as positive & progressive. But when Them views themself in the mirror or is faced with criticism, Them becomes very emotional & defensive, not realizing that Them's tone of voice turns from a rational adult to a whiny little brat, bordering on the edge of tears. The defensiveness, the frustration, and the fear in Them's voice, mannerisms, and body language is obvious to the educated/experienced eye.

Them loves the quality of the information I give out and is eager to be proficient in it and teach it, but Them hates to be on the receiving end of my criticisms. Them may reflexively snap back at me, slink off to the corner to cry, or just outright quit and come back after a few weeks of nursing Them's feelings.

See, here's exactly where Gray's statements come into play for us on a deeper level than just athletic performance. These are truths that apply solidly for who we are as human beings.

People love to be praised, patted on the back, recognized for achievement. But people HATE to stack up as less than someone else. You'll see grown men cry and rational individuals behave like wounded animals when you point out their deficiencies or asymmetries. It's that way for plenty of the seniormost people in ANY field of endeavor, and it's certainly that way for EVERYONE on a human level.

We compensate socially in no shortage of ways... from half-a$$ed, meaningless apologies to Jedi mind trick-style diversions, to politicking, to verbal passive-aggressiveness, to simply disengaging. Depending on your background, your education, your training, and your priorities, you may use any of these "tools" or countless others to protect your paradigm.

But life and the world around us keeps evolving.

Just like the RKC II's certification requirements have evolved, so too does the rest of our world. People who went through the RKC and RKC II before the requirements became as solid as they are now have one of two options - to $h!t their pants in cowardice, and whine and complain about how unreasonable those newer requirements are, OR to accept that the cert is nowhere near as meaningful if it's not earned through real blood, sweat, and sacrifice.

Psycho-social evolution is no different. Everyone wants a pat on the back, a moment in the spotlight, and/or the assurance that all is good. All is NOT good. If you were reading the section above about "Them" and thinking "Is he talking about me?" or "He certainly isn't talking about me", then I'm talking about YOU. Instead of concerning yourself with what I think, why not prioritize your own self-discovery process and developing the honesty, courage, and persistence needed for the self-strengthening process?

As I was cleaning out some old papers from back in my early college days, I came upon a scrap of paper that I'd jotted a quote down on. My first and only Shotokan Karate master, Tsutomu Ohshima, once said during a class that "We need to have the courage to look inside ourselves and see the ugliness and weakness that we try to hide from others and often from ourselves. If you can look inside with honest eyes and have the courage to see your own sickness and weakness, then you can cut those parts away from yourself and become truly strong."

Inertia allows us to make plenty of excuses about why we can't evolve. Entitlement and denial allow us to treat everyone who calls us on our bull$h!# like criminals or lunatics. We should do away with all of that.

Those who are fighting for evolution are the ones who fight to identify their own weaknesses and struggle mightily to overcome them by predicting their defensive behaviors, deciding to put a stop to such cowardice, and executing a corrective strategy.

As the late Rev. Kensho Furuya once told me, "People think I'm preachy when they read my column sometimes, but I often write to remind myself of what I should do." The same applies for me as well. Gray's teachings apply to so many more levels of life than the casual reader might comprehend. Instead of simply adding strength to dysfunction, let's clean out the underlying dysfunctions & pathologies, reboot our systems, and then add beautiful strength to a rock-solid foundation.


The Endos & Morenos said...

Great things to think about Doc. So what would the Functional Emotional Screen (FES) look like?

Or would it be a Functional Tao Screen, finding the imbalances of the Yin and Yang?

What are my asymmetries? What are my compensations? What are the corrective exercises I can do?
-- Umm these are rhetorical, I do not expect an answer from you, but upon deep reflection, from myself ;)

BTW I plan to meet the RKC 2 requirements in time for the RKC 2. But as an amateur* RKC, I can't justify the expense of going at this time.

*amateur - for the love of, as opposed to as a profession.

Amy Jurrens said...

This post came at a perfect time for me. I'm cleaning out and needed to hear it. Steve Freides said the following to W2 on the RKC Forum last week and it reminds me of what you said:

"Anyone can call 'em like they see 'em; it takes a real man to look at himself in the mirror and tell the world what he sees."

It is easy to see other people's weakness and point it out. It downright cuts us to the core to recognize our own weakness and point it out.

Well-written, thought-provoking post. Thank you!

Boris said...

Nice post Doc - a kick in the pants we all need from time to time.

Yoana Teran Snideman said...

Bang on!

Impactful prose Mark! This should become an artilce....big time!

Dr. Mizuhara-Cheng said...

Great post husband! Very reflective and thought provoking. With so many personal areas of asymmetry, I can relate to how imbalances can potentially cause personal injury and compensations may lead to suffering elsewhere. Currently working on corrective exercises to correct these asymmetries so I can be a better wife, mother, doctor, sister, friend, etc.

Unknown said...

Ladies & Gentlemen, thank you for your comments.

Working with the people I've looked up to as long term mentors and true influences on my life's path (Gray Cook, Pavel Tsatsouline, Master David C.K. Lin, and my father) has taught me a lot through the years. But perhaps the most important of their lessons is the combined value of unflinching introspection and real action.

So much to improve, so many distractions & excuses, so little time... Back to work!