Friday, April 8, 2011


Language can determine outcome.

It can shape our vision and therefore our approach.

Advertisers know this and use specific trigger words to manipulate human behaviour; politicians know this, and as a result, carefully craft their sentences in order to shape and fulfil their desired results.

But it works for us, too.

For example, when it comes to martial arts, exchange the word practicing for cultivating. Immediately a more organic, slow, and more patient vision comes to mind. I see a garden when I hear the latter word. Something sensitive and adaptable to the elements surrounding it.

Qi, teachers will suggest, is cultivated rather than learned. You start from nothing. It grows. The process is slow, but as a result, the knowledge of qi should permanently meld into the mind and body.

Another term is self defense. It is much different than combat training or grappling, etc. It suggests an entirely different situation than, say, fighting. It conjures up scenes of street violence and how to escape them as quickly and effectively as possible. Fighting brings to mind more calculated strategies, feints, combinations, and often a referee.

This means we approach self defense differently than fighting. For me, this is a huge difference, and involves very different training.

The brain works like this: Put the word "fighting" into a search engine. Look at the pictures that appear. Now do the same with "self defense", and you will see a much different take on violent situations.

This is what your mind does.

And it can change everything.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Good post. I often try to use words that mean the same thing, but have different connotations to try to break away from that. (i.e. asking who gets the credit, instead of who's fault it is, and visa versa)

    One meditation that I did that has really changed my perspective and fits well with the cultivation theme was a plant meditation. Get a plant, watch it grow for at least 15 minutes per day for 30 consecutive days. Oddly enough it is very different than watching a time lapse.

  3. Michele and Guilherme, thanks... Jacob, a good meditation to expand one's view of the world.

  4. Very good point on cultivation. It really does change how you approach areas of training. When you think of cultivating, you're far less likely to be hyper critical of yourself.

    You're on a roll.