Tuesday, July 17, 2018
shhhh....science and self-defense can be friends...really...it's okay-
Who knew neurobiology would tell us how intensely Fubar'd the martial arts & self-defense world can be? Let's find out...
An article by neurobiologist James Platt in Scientific American pulls together a handful of research findings to point out something I think a lot of people have come to understand somewhat intuitively: the more diverse your social network, the healthier you are. Across the board. Not just physical well-being but cognitive and emotional as well. No longer ground-breaking information, that.
What Platt goes on to point at though is cool, fascinating, interesting, and should bring us (the collective SD industry) to task. He highlights how the diversity of the social network carries a strong correlation to our capacity for decision-making and problem solving.
Meaning the more diverse the network - the better we are at those things. Being an information broker makes your brain function better. Information brokers are people who interact in a cross-cultural social system. Adolescents who have friends on the football team, in orchestra, drama club and choir are not only happier, healthier and better users of their own brains...but they are also part of the information superhighway.
If all your friends know each other, then the ideas you talk about and the skills you use for conflict management between people (and in your own internal struggles) are more homogenous and this is not all that awesome.
When we cross pollinate we are stronger for it. We are more effective in our personal health/well-being and we are more useful to our communities.
Conversely, the martial industry is intensely protectively tribal. One of the Gracies is on record saying that if you train with him and then go down the street and train with someone else teaching similar stuff you have committed a profound act of betrayal and one of the deepest violations of relationship.
He's not the only one holding this belief.
There are plenty of martial organizations who make it clear "if you train with us, you are not to train with anyone else who teaches what we teach". This edict intensifies if you are an instructor; to the point that if you associate with other organizations of similar skills you will be kicked out of your present association.
Compare this to Platt's summary of findings and we arrive here:
If you teach or train in our organization you must avoid becoming an information broker. Your ability to nurture your own neurobiological diversity must remain limited, keeping your problem-solving skills hobbled and your community usefulness limited as it applies to our industry and associated skills.
The monkey brain says protect the tribe. Protect the uniqueness, the skills identifying one tribe from the other must be held in isolation from the Other tribes to maintain the identity of our own.
Evolution says pfffffttt! Go be an information broker, it's fundamentally better for everyone involved.
Note: our neurobiology has also evolved to automatically Other humans who appear overtly different from one another. That being said, above all else, we are not our confined to the limitations of our neurons in either direction. We can devolve to limited, homogenous networks and with it a static set of functional problem-solving and we can evolve to limit the degree to which we look at people and say "because you are different than me, you are bad".
P.S. - someone asked for the reference so adding it in here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/what-your-facebook-network-reveals-about-how-you-use-your-brain/