Hello world I am back, free to blog to my heart’s content after my release from prison. Well not a real prison but a kind of open prison where I get to do repetitive mindless tasks to atone for my past sins and misdemeanors, which are many. In fact the virtual prison I have been in is very comfortable and I have been allowed out several times to train and teach self defence classes so it’s not that bad, it is in fact a really lovely place, it has been home for 17 years now and I love the old place. This last few weeks I have been mainly redecorating, it is not a punishment, I choose to do it and it saves loads of cash, but it feels like a punishment. It is what veterans like my dad would call jankers I believe, sort of punishments like cutting the grass with scissors, mind numbing, boring tasks that occupy huge amounts of time. My particular task that has kept me busy, and still is not finished is decorating. Our house is like the Forth Bridge, as soon as I reach one end I seem to have to start again at the other, it’s a fair size house and my wife and I rattle around in it now all the kids have left. The main job has been the staircase, the staircase of a thousand spindles, OK not strictly true but it feels like it. Here is a little pic.

So that is the top of the stairs, carpet and some spindles removed to aid access and it is starting to look nice, lots of rubbing down, lots of filling of cracks and holes, primer, undercoat and eggshell finish, it is a labour of love??? I am waiting for some new spindles from the woodturner to replace a couple that got smashed by the kids, one when one of the kids was smashed!!! That is as it stands today for the stairs, but in the morning I face the hallway………

Now you get the picture, literally, I am turning darkness into light, literally. There is a door round the corner too! Yes all that lovely paneling, until it needs sanding, filling, priming, under coating and finally the application of the lovelly eggshell finish. But dear bloggers, why am I boring you with my decorating exploits, well the answer is simple, decorating my stairs is like making love to a beautiful women. Now I know you are thinking I have inhaled too much solvent based paint but let Swiss Toni explain.

So it is all about todgers then, no I meant process, It is all about process. Decorating is just like making love to a beautiful woman, for Swiss Toni everything comes back to, yes you guessed it…. So in the morning I will clean my brush, shove up the pole, lift the receiver, make a nice cup of coffee and get out my gold card. Anyway that is enough metaphor for one day. For many of us the decorating metaphor would as martial artists be the same, the result is not slapping on the topcoat, it is in the preparation. In decorating as in martial arts preparation is everything, we need to begin with the foundations, the basics then work on upwards, slowly creating a structure that will stand the test of time. Not rushing in and slapping together a temporary or easy fix like these guys.

Sorry but having a two-year old grandson makes this seem really good again. Anyway nursery rhymes and children’s stories have moral tales as part of their fabric, and this one resonates with me. Whilst applying layer upon layer of paint with the radio for company the subconscious mind has a field day. Billions of thoughts zoom around and exciting connections are made, it is something like the atoms flying around in the Hadron Collider, they ultimately smash into one another and produce something spectacular.  Well if my head is the Hadron Collider the results are disappointing as the null hypothesis has proved true. It is not the fancy stuff I am currently learning for my fourth dan that is important but every single technique that went before it. Far too often I see students concentrate so hard on the new they negect the old. Chasing the next belt is a lot of what the martial arts industry is built upon, it is what students like, it generates income, it rewards effort and signifies progress, as humans we crave this. As martial artists many crave belts as addicts crave drugs, belt addicts. The MacDojo’s know this and work on it, they sell black belts like sweets, very expensive sweets of little substance. It is that basic addiction dealers create for others to crave.

This basic addiction of belt chasing is a virtuous and vicious circle at the same time, like all cravings, handled properly and with moderation martial arts are incredibly beneficial in assisting individuals build firm structures that support future development. In my experience, not just personal, I can see the incredible gains made by individuals who partake in them, that is those that go to credible schools. I have also seen the boy racers of the martial arts world who fly through the belt system, always giving 100% effort and commitment to the next belt but struggling with the old stuff, that old white, yellow belt stuff. But hold on there, that is your foundation, it has its purpose and worth, it is not as exciting as your fourth dan nunchuk kata, but it is as important. This is where your addiction is properly located, within the basics, in your foundations, keeping the structure strong and in good repair. Keep pushing your learning forward but do not neglect the base. So be like Swiss Toni, spend a little time on the preliminaries each time you train, see it as the forplay that is fun in itself and it will all pay off in the end and please, think of me these next few days as I sand, prime, undercoat and……… Once again the kid in me comes out, enjoy the Chuckle Brothers, to you, to me…