Change that is not immediately beneficial or pleasant is usually difficult to instigate. When it is a change away from some habit, a negative motion, there is always inertia and resistance of some degree. When there is an underlying problem it becomes easy to ignore.
It starts slowly and takes a long time to sink in or take hold. First there are small gripes and annoyances that you ignore, pass off as not getting enough rest or working too hard. It builds slowly. Eventually you get to a stage where you know there is a problem and you know it might just get worse over time. You want to do something about it but there is a level of inertia that prevents you. This is the prevarication stage and you find yourself preparing in an endless loop; I’ll sort that problem out as soon as I have done this one thing, or prepared the ground in this particular way.
At some point you reach the turning point of critical mass, then you realise that you have no choice but to do something. The lack of choice always moves you forward. I had problems in my back and knee that I was putting down to age or poor living, but they didn’t really galvanise me to action. Every so often I would attempt some small feat of lifting and my back would freeze up, painfully but not for a long time. My knees would click when I squatted down or stood up from kneeling. Both of things I ignored for a long time, until ultimately I found that sitting down was causing my knees to lock in place and painfully unlock when standing. It could have been much worse, and I considered myself reasonably lucky; these problems were not that bad, not totally debilitating, but eventually they were enough to move me to action.
I saw a doctor, who sent me to a physiotherapist. There it was explained to me that my twenty years of working behind a desk in a sitting position, with my ankles crossed, was causing an atrophy to certain muscles. In turn those muscles were failing to carry the right weight, or move the body in the right way. The thigh muscles were not strong enough to pull efficiently, with equal strength, and were causing stress across the patella. All quite obvious in retrospect, but I couldn’t remember how long I had been thinking about doing some exercise and not doing it.
I was instructed to do regular stretches, squats and lunges and after only a week of activity I could see and feel and immediate difference.
Change can also be viewed as a move towards a positive outcome. When we view change in respect to our eventual goals then we maintain a level of motivation, we move towards something, a positive motion. Here it is not inertia but the generation of force, that only requires the right outlet for us to launch in a new direction. The prevarication stage here can be used to your advantage. The chances are that if your mind is returning to the plan of action for something you aren’t doing then all it takes is the right set of circumstances to make that plan move to action.
For me the back story here is my Great Prevarication stage. It took me a long time to get those circumstances together and even this Documentation is further proof of an extended and complex avoidance of action, but at the same time it is necessary.
My training started with those simple exercises. After a few weeks I moved to stage two, though I wouldn’t have realised it at the time, and I started walking. Specifically I started Walking with Leslie Sansone and most importantly my wife joined me in support. I would not have maintained these exercises if weren’t for my wife’s support and the innate desire to impress her.
As we walked, we also plotted our journey on a map of Middle Earth using the distances detailed in the Eowyn Challenge.
Four months later and we moved up to Shaun T’s Focus T25 from Beachbody. Starting as a desperately flailing individual trying to keep up with the modified version of Alpha (the first stage), and then keeping up with the proper programme.
I think you’ll agree there is a difference there. Now I approach the first year of exercise and we regularly maintain the Beta programme six days a week. According to the maps and the statistical data from my FitBit, if we follow Aragorn we will be at the Paths of the Dead by the 30th of August, and the plans I set out four years ago have finally started to come to something.
Perhaps then, all of this has been part of the required circumstance, part of the plan all along. I record this here because I see that two elements are at play and both are equally important. The first is that of prevarication as preparation. The second is that I am approaching this learning from a place of activity.
Both of these concepts, momentum and inertia, are vital to the core of sword work; both in terms of their physics and their other meanings. I believe they will become integral to understanding the physical movement of the body and the sword and of how the mind approaches learning.
- PHYSICS: the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity
- the impetus gained by a moving object.
- a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
- PHYSICS: a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.