The Cutting Edge
Rested I return, quite literally, as I sit here in my conservatory with a light breeze whispering through the windows making the air fresh and light. The sun is again playing hide and seek and the deluge of the last few days appears to have passed. My day began with a lie in, I arose took tea then went to visit my parents. Then it was a full English and now this, that is as tough as it gets apart from my intention to do my daily sets of press-ups.I took my own advice in my last blog.
The past weeks training has been really varied, last Saturday I taught a class with just women and myself, it was a first and great fun and I have the bruises to prove it, my inner thighs are still sore and purple bruising adorns them. On Monday I taught an after school self defence class at a primary school and we had some great fun, Tuesday circuit training at home, Wednesday I trained in the woods with my mate Bill, we call it Wild Wednesday, Thursday I taught another after school self defence class then trained at Ju Jitsu, Friday I put in a full day with Eddie Quinn at Leeds University, courtesy to Al Cain the head of security there, and Saturday I returned to Ju Jitsu for our mornings session and in the afternoon delivered a 2 hour session for SHINE, at the University of Sheffield. On top of this I still did my 200 press-ups a day.
I am not bragging, this is just another week for me, it is after all how I earn my living, I teach self defence, I need to keep fit and keep learning, to keep on the cutting edge. I have worked for SHINE before, they are a local charity that helps children with weight problems and in particular with those struggling with obesity, our national plague in my eyes. We had great fun with some simple focus pad and Thai pad drills then some shuttles using these drills and a bit of static self defence as rest periods. I was just a part of a big help offered these kids by Nick Wilson at the university, happy to help. Training with Eddie was great fun, made more so by my fantastic training partner for the day, big Lee. Lee recently retired from a twelve-year career as a professional boxer, he was a really self depreciating guy, a huge fella with a huge heart and the power and strength of a Rhino (they have these in Leeds I believe). We gave those Thai pads some hammer between us and Lee was obviously a great member of the team and Al is clearly investing in them with the raft of training he is putting on. Eddie Quinn, somebody I have communicated a little with on Facebook, is a larger than life character, it was great to meet face to face. Eddie’s Approach system is right up my street as an infighter as infighters need to get in to be able to access their happy place.Eddie, many thanks I loved it, as clearly did all there.
Whilst all centred around martial arts/combatives/self defence training it is the diversity of those I meet that I really enjoy. I get to meet, through my work and training, some really fantastic people and inevitably you learn far more than the curriculum or the lesson plan can provide. I like to experiment, to branch out in different directions, sometimes only for brief periods, mini explorations of different styles, different ways and different perspectives. That is how we learn and add to our current stock of knowledge, we acquire more and more knowledge as we build our cultural capital. It works in the same way as money, we have some, we want more, we find ways of getting more, we call the money we hold in store our capital. The thoughts and ideas we hold in our head we call cultural capital and it is the wise who invest in this way. But cultural capital like money is not distributed evenly, why should it be, we live in an unequal world.
Cultural capital is more than knowledge, it’s about how we talk and how we dress, how we live even how we think. Cultural capital is closely related to what we think of as the class system. Social classes reproduce themselves they can be virtuous or vicious circles, birth places you there. Have a look at this clip:
Rude boy that Paul Weller, but an interesting look at class, cultural capital and how it is socially reproduced. Those of you who are still with me may be asking what this has to do with martial arts, well Eddie Quinn can tell you as can I. For many working class people exposure to the martial arts opens up other new possibilities of being. In a previous blog I mentioned the NEETS, those young people who are not in education or employment or training. My mate called me to say that I am to be hired to take part in an innovative new training programme to help them develop employability, ie to pump in some cultural capital like putting more fuel in the car. It may be a first, I do not know, but I will be taking the same thing that works with the young people from SHINE, that works in my after school classes, at Ju Jitsu and in the woods, I will take passion.
Passion is infectious, Eddie Quinn has it in bucket loads, he described his life journey briefly and compared to his kids, how he grew up a street rat, ended up in a nice house in a nice area and saw his kids live a very different childhood, a middle class childhood and I connect with that as it is my experience too. Working class, hard-working aspiring family, left school after years of mucking about with no qualifications, first caution at 14 for unruly behaviour at the football, violent youth, many different jobs, college at 28, uni at 30, then all sorts of interesting experiences I sit in a big house in a plush area in my conservatory writing for you. Yes it took hard work, lots and lots of it, sweat, blood and tears shed a plenty and no I did not do it alone, I have a really clever and hardworking wife and now all our children have flown the nest and are living productive and hard-working lives too. Again I do not say this to brag the choices are there for all, it is bread today or bread tomorrow, defer your immediate need to gratify your desires now and plan for the long-term.
The single-minded pursuit of wealth may help you buy happiness whereas the meandering gathering of cultural capital will bring great happiness to those who invest in themselves and others. In a week dominated by our wealthiest ever Prime Minister criticising others for tax avoidance, something not one of his relatives would countenance, the focus falls on pounds, shillings and pence when really our focus should be on art, science and literature and yes, martial arts too. As an individual I like to think I stay as close as I can to the cutting edge in my training, I do not like the idea of becoming stale trapped in some fixed period that I became comfortable in. No, I like to think of myself as a kind of time traveller dipping in and out of subjects instead of galaxies though. Meeting many different and varied people helps me to continue building my social capital and, ironically, at the same time my actual capital.
Tonight I will sit in my living room and yes it is a 52″ TV, but it is a big living room, crisps and wine at the ready, England shirt on and flags flying full of expectations. Before hand I will have listened to some of my favourite songs and dined on Conger Eel, (don’t ask). I will lose in the battle to control my emotions as I experience passion of another sort, the kind of passion that puts to the back of the mind countless previous disappointments, many sickening exits from major competitions, when I was seven England became world champions, it was a fantastic feeling and it lasted for years. My concerns are that we are going to struggle for 90 minutes, then 30 minutesextra time then the dreaded penalties. If we gave it everything and lost inside the 90 I can take that, I can certainly become ecstatic if we beat the Italians, what I cannot take is not trying when you get the opportunity. Maybe that is why I give my all in training as in other aspects of my life, it is why I get so much reward when I get the opportunity to get other to try their hardest, to fight the fight, to dream the dream. I have no intention of living in the shadows, it is where I came from and will not go back. Work hard, train hard and enjoy life is my motto, take it by the scruff of the neck and give it your best go. mediocrity is with us in abundance, for those lacking in capital, monetary or cultural. Break the rules, acquire and succeed, it really is all up to you. Enjoy the following clip, Garry.