I have been thinking about this for some time now. It has permeated every aspect of my life. Not sure how exactly it started, it could have been planning a large cross country move, looking around at what appeared to be a mass of "stuff" which I had no idea of its use. You know what I mean, those boxes in the closet that store years of knickknacks that never get used. Or need to be used, for that matter. Sure, some of it was culled, and a still large portion was moved some 3000 miles east. Its a constant process anyhow.
This task sparked some thinking about how to cull this excess in other ways. What sort of boxes labeled "misc" did I have stacked in the closets of my brain? To be honest, I'm not sure I had ever really given that too much thought. I am fairly certain that I had always been content in believing that most stuff that went into my head probably rattled around there for a time, then dropped out if it wasn't used. Not so, I now believe.
A very key component of what keeps me drawn to Senshido is the focus on development. That to me means evolution. A process of opening up to new paths. A realization that some pressure is being exerted, and so a course correction is tried as a step forward. That pressure can come from the physical or spiritual realm...it can ignite the imagination to promote creativity, it can challenge the ego forcing some deep self realization, or it can push you physically to react more dynamically in life. I now believe that this can't be done effectively without being open to culling the excess. To better illustrate this idea I'll give you some examples from my own life.
I use to be a collector. I had some antique knives, then some of the popular "tactical" and custom knives. The idea of a big move forced me to reevaluate the importance of a collection of steel that I never really used. A tool that is never used just becomes unnecessary and a burden. So I sold everything I had save for one or two. Now I'm down to just one locking pocket knife and some others that aren't worth anything so they just hang out in a drawer. Once I had done this I began to think more about why I carried a knife in the first place. What was it? A weapon? A tool? Was I carrying it to cut random things I might encounter or in case I was one day suddenly attacked, to magically whip it out and what...stab people? It seems obvious, I was carrying it for no real reason. How many times had I used it? Looking back it was usually for opening boxes, at home. Yeah...when I was out and about I'd use whatever to cut stuff, scissors, keys...hardly ever pulled out a knife. Mostly because I was aware that other people around me might freak out (might? no, having learned from experience, they DID feel uncomfortable when I'd pull a knife out to cut things) when I used a knife. So why carry it? Had I ever been in an altercation and needed a weapon? Sure, part of my job put me in that sort environment, but never did I honestly picture using a pocket knife as part of my job. It was an impractical tool, useless for my purposes.
Outside the obvious relation to the popular subculture of "tactical" gear (knives, military inspired clothing, firearms and tactics training, etc) I also see the stripping away of collections as being applicable to martial arts, self defense and even reality based training. Those familiar with Senshido are likely aware of the differences between sport arts and reality. There has been plenty written on this blog and the Senshido forums in regards to pre-contact psychology, the nature of confrontations and the importance of not only avoidance but also of "out-birthing" violence all together. I won't attempt to address that, but feel that one aspect that has drawn me to Senshido is the constant evolution. I am less interested, or should I say, place less primary focus on the physical aspects of a confrontation. It is a personal decision that I have come to over the years while on this journey. The almost active stripping away of certain ways of thinking about "fighting". Even the term "fighting" in a real personal protection context carries its own baggage. The idea has been to redefine what is needed in my every day life, and how to make that applicable to someone that is just starting on this journey.
The RBSD and "tactical" world in general have come to adopt certain terms, and thus ways of thinking, that I have personally tried to do away with in my own development. I can't yet say this approach is good for everyone, as I am an extreme case for learning by experience. Like most people with this type of learning style, quite a bit of trial and error is involved before the final path is worked out. One term I personally advocate for removal from my vocabulary is "tool box". I don't believe I have a "tool box" in the context of personal protection. I know when a high stress dynamic situation breaks I revert to gross motor concepts. In the context of firearms I've found that I am good at basic draw and point during pretty basic training. I've worked it so many times that it comes close to natural. However, throw in a more dynamic attack at close range and I have yet to use that push off technique from my so called "tool box" they talked so much about in the academy. I guess what I am saying is, I react the way I react, rather than fight natural reactions and create a hypothetical place to store pre-designed reactions to dynamic situations, I focus on working the concepts that time and again offer the most successful outcome. I want to be general when reacting to the unknown, not specific. This is something I've learned during my culling process. Doing away with the "tool box" is where I've started.
In the end, its all about the unknown amount of baggage we all carry with us. The personal baggage can often times overrun us and control how we approach life. By taking stock and culling through what is there, we can work to let go of the stuff we don't need. I've found it to be a very powerful tool to spark change in my life. Give it a try.