Asking for recognition

The instructor took us through the movement. First, slowly, then, faster. And as I saw it again and again it made more and more sense. After he finished his demonstration we were told to try it for ourselves, so off we went with our training partners.

As I did the movement, I worked out that what the instructor performed as one fluid motion was actually two separate stages chained effortlessly together. Upon realising this, I smiled—for me, the fluctuation between struggle and insight is what gives learning its charm. I then called the instructor over and asked him to confirm my insight: “So, this part of the sweep is two separate movements?” “Exactly,” he said.

For the last few months, a good friend has been managing my physical training. He writes programs and provides support that helps me become stronger and move better. Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of changing rest periods during the sessions he sets me. Instead of “rest for sixty seconds”, I thought I could try “rest for thirty breaths”. This would allow me to get some breathing work in and eliminate dependency on a clock or watch during my sessions—I have a vendetta against the quantification of time, see.

I congratulated myself for having this idea and made a note to ask him about doing it that same night. I never did because I realised that in that instance—and in the example above from a recent Brazilian jiu-jitsu session—I was using questions as tools for recognition. 

Ordinarily, a question is used like a pickaxe, as a way to chip away the edifice of rock and get at what lies beneath. I wasn’t doing that. I was asking in order to assuage my own ego. I was using a question to get two people I respect to respect me more. 

How foolish.