The Wave and the Bamboo Story

A little off topic today but something that happened this weekend reminded me of the wave and the bamboo story. Working in automotive and even with the scouts this was a handy thing to have.

Terrence Webster Doyle is an author and Karate instructor. In his book “Facing the Double-Edged Sword” he gives an analogy about the wave and the bamboo. It is a childrens book. I first read it when my kids were having bully issues.

The wave is the attack, could be verbal or physical. Think big powerful ocean wave crashing down on a person. Imagine that you are bamboo, in the path of the wave. The bamboo bends with the attack, does not resist the attack. And after springs right back to its original shape, undamaged. He suggests you have a friend insult you and observe how you feel without reacting as an exercise. Many lessons that originate in the martial arts are useful in general.

Funakoshi wrote “there is no first attack in Karate”. Doyle took it a step further and suggested you can choose to block and not strike back. Or listen to the verbal abuse but remain calm and not return in kind. This can be especially useful if you have family members, maybe teenagers that get angry fast and cool off fast. The trick is to avoid escalation. Give them a chance to come to their senses.

I watched the new Jackie Chan movie the Karate kid with my family the other night. This movie is on the edge of believability but I enjoyed it. In the movie you see the new karate kid, Dre, at first, repeatedly being pummeled after running attacks at the bad guy (attempting a first attack). In martial arts, and in life in general, the bad guys will use all that force and energy, with a subtle redirection (especially in Aikido), against you. Better to give them the come on, let them run at you. They probably will walk away rather than do that, because they know better. Defense is generally easier and safer than offense.

Be the bamboo.


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