The Importance of Flexibility
It is the season when cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the petals dancing in the wind are enchanting. Just as flowers and grasses are budding, we may also feel the urge to start to do something new. Some of you may have started a new job or joined a new workplace.
Flexibility is very important when we take on new challenges. And many people think that they are already quite flexible. How about you? In fact, we often stick to our ideas and habits more often than we think. Perhaps we don't think we are sticking to them because they are so normal.
Words like "It's unprecedented," "It's impossible," and "It's wrong," are thoughts that we have when we are attached to something. When these words come to mind, there is no progress or reform there. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, even if you are doing well now, someday someone will pass you by and you will be left behind.
Why do we stick with the things that we do? The answer is because it is easy. If we don't do anything new, we can just repeat the same thing over and over again, and there is little chance of failure because of the certainty and stability of our past actions. Nothing could be easier. Because with new things come challenges, hardships, and failures.
My master, Kinefuchi Sensei, would not deny a student's mistake when using a technique or doing something that he or she has not been taught, as long as it did not cause injury to their opponent. Not only that, he would often say, "That's also good,“ and he may even introduce the technique that the student improvised or invented as a new one even though he has been practicing the original technique the same way for decades. When I say my opinion about techniques I may ask, "Won't this be too painful ? “or "Wouldn't some people be more afraid of falling in this way after this technique?" He'll regularly accept my suggestions and because of this, we have changed some of our basic techniques together.
He told me that his master, Minoru Mochizuki, always explained to him that "Techniques should improve. “ I also feel that techniques can always be improved because while there is a basic form to these that can be passed on to future generations, there must be a level of flexibility in our thinking about these forms to change them according to the person who uses them and the situation that they will apply them.
For example, we can't require everyone to do the same technique exactly the same, but instead we need to adjust it so that a woman like me who is only 152 cm tall and not very strong, a senior citizen who is over 70 years old and just starting martial arts for the first time, or even a small child can use the technique. Because of this, I think that each person needs to develop a unique form of each technique that suits them and their situation.
I believe that the work that we do also improves by being flexible, and that innovation is born from this flexibility.<