Control: If Focus Has a Cousin


While balancing his instructor on his foot, upside down, and using telekinesis to levitate rocks, the padawan Luke Skywalker loses his emotional focus. His mind briefly flashes to his friends who are in trouble, this causes him to lose control of the force. Sensing this disturbance and understanding the consequences of gravity, Master Yoda shouts to Skywalker while falling to the ground, “Control, control, you must learn control”.

Fiction aside, every martial arts instructor and every student have had a similar moment, albeit without a magical power. More realistic, a junior student is kicking and doesn’t truly understand their own power or speed and without intending to, they strike their instructor or worse, another student with shocking force.  Form this moment forward, the instructor must be on high alert to keep the student and their peers safe. Paraphrasing Yoda, “I’ve got to teach that child control”.

Much like the life skill of focus, control are very close cousins. Both skills work in the same three areas, body, mind, and emotion.  But unlike focus, control is meant to regulate and influence our behavior as opposed to centering ourselves on an interest or activity. For example, a child can be so incredibly focused mentally on something they find exciting, like a video game, that they then lack the ability to control their body or emotions when they lose. They throw their tablet.

Where such behavior should never be condoned the source of such issues may not be as cut and dry as we adults might like to believe. Many times, kids can be very frustrated by their inability to control their own bodies or to verbalize their emotions. Understanding this, it’s important to teach them to seek failure as a learning opportunity while learning how to program their own bodies through muscle memory and repetition.  Equally important, learning to focus is great, but once we’re locked in, we must to perform consistently.

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”
Tony Robbins

To aide in this development, many of our drills and lessons this month are designed to promote better control. As always, we ask that each student complete a life skills worksheet and share their thoughts with their fellow students.

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