Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dalai Lama's Rules for the New Millennium


The title is going to be a bit of a bother for some people, but you are just going to have to read on and see the relevance for fencing (talking to HEMA people too) in general. I have these rules posted on my kitchen wall and I decided that it would be useful to do a post about how they can be related to fencing. Being that there are 17 of them here, so this is going to be a long one.

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

When you become a lover of fencing and you want to do well with it you are going to have to throw yourself wholy into it. This means that you will be putting yourself at risk. Physically obviously there is a risk, but for some there will also be an emotional one as well.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

I have made posts about the learning process before, and losing is not a bad thing when looked at from the right direction. This rule points out why. If you lost there is a reason why, and it is not because the referee was bad, or the rules were bad, it was because you got hit. Figure out the reason why and work on that.

3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, respect for others and responsibility for all your actions.

Where to start with this one? Respect for yourself does not mean having a big ego, it means not doing stuff which would reduce the level of respect you have for yourself. Respect for others means examining what they are doing and seeing where they are at before making comment. It also means treating people as you would want to be treated. Responsibility for all your actions is simple, if you did it you own up to it. It also means not blaming others for stuff which put you in the place where you are.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

Sometimes we wish for short-cuts, it is better to work our way to our goals. Sometimes we want a particular piece of gear and we get another, and it turns out it works better, the list goes on.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

Knowing how to use the rules to your advantage is one of the keys to survival. In most cases it is not "breaking" them that is the best, but "bending" them. Just remember to look at the rules properly before you do this to know exactly what rules you are bending and what the result will be.

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

So you like a different master, is this a big enough difference to break a friendship? So you prefer different weapons, is this a big enough difference to break a friendship? Most of the time we can negotiate and find common ground between people. Do this and you will find more friends.

7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

This one goes back to rule 3 about responsibility for actions. Don't wait around to be discovered, admit you have made a mistake and fix it before it gets blown out of proportion. It is better to be up-front about a mistake than be hiding and discovered.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

Solo training is important, and so is training every day. Both of these apply here.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

So you have found something new that you like, don't let it change your values. A change of pace with another school should not mean that you change the reason why you fence. A change of method should not change the foundation principles of fencing upon which you fence either.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Sometimes it is better to be silent than to make a comment. These are often the cases where someone is looking for an argument and making a response gives them what they want. Walking away is often the best response in some situations. 

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

When you sit back and remember tournaments which you have fought in, you know whether you were struck or not. If you fought honourably and gave your opponent blows when you were struck and acted with honourable methods you can sit back and enjoy those tournaments again. The same goes for all encounters. Make good memories that you want to keep.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

In this case we talk about your school. "Loving" may not be the most appropriate word, "welcoming" would suit, so would "supportive". Students need to be supported by all members of the school not just trainers but also fellow members, this will keep them coming back.

13. In disagreements ..., deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

In this case use only the information which is current. Reputations of individuals can stick for a long time, even when they have far out-grown them. Deal only with the current issue at hand with the information present, there is no need to dredge up old situations.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

Ah, the reason why I write. Sharing knowledge is important for us all. The more we share the better we all get in our fencing, it is a knock-on effect. Put it on paper even and spread it far and wide so more people can see it.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

The SCA prides itself on leaving a site cleaner than it was when it arrived. All fencing communities should do the same.

16. Once a year, go some place you've never been before.

Travel. It widens your experience. Go some place and fence with people that you haven't fenced before and you will find that you will learn from the interaction with them.

Yes, I can count, 17 and 19 are missing. 17 was more related to personal relationships so I left it out. 19 was not really useful to the current discussion.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

It is better when you judge your success to look back at what you have sacrificed to get where you are than to look at your achievements along the way. Tournament prizes are nice but they do not really last in memory, they are pretty and shiny and they sit nicely on the wall as reminders of a good day. They do not remind you of the hard work and training that you put in to get to the tournament, or the training that you did with your students, or the research that you did on a particular manual to get your technique correct. They also do not remind you of the nights out that you didn't go on because you were training, or the extra things that you could have bought that you didn't because you had to pay for training or new gear. These are the things that you should be looking at.

There are points all the way through which will resonate with some and others which will not resonate at all. That is fine. Find a copy of the original, which you can find all over the internet, and post it up on a wall and look at it occasionally. Have a think and see if there is something that you could be doing, or not doing to improve your fencing, or even out-of-fencing, life.