While balancing his instructor on his foot, upside down, and using telekinesis to levitate rocks, the padawan Luke Skywalker loses his emotional focus. His mind suddenly flashes to his friends who are in trouble, this causes him to lose control of the force. Sensing this disturbance and understanding the consequences of gravity, Master Yoda shouts to Skywalker while falling to the ground, “Control, control, you must learn control”.
Fiction aside, every martial arts instructor and every student have had a similar moment, albeit without a magical power. More realistic, a junior student is kicking and doesn’t truly understand their own power or speed and without intending to, they strike their instructor or worse, another student with shocking force. From this moment forward, the instructor must be on high alert to keep the student and their peers safe. Paraphrasing Yoda, “I’ve got to teach that child control”.
Much like the life skill of focus, control are very close cousins. Both skills work in the same three areas, body, mind, and emotion. But unlike focus, control regulates and influences our behavior as opposed to centering ourselves on an interest or activity. For example, a child can be so incredibly focused mentally on something they find exciting, like a video game, that they then lack the ability to control their body or emotions when they lose. For instance, they throw their tablet.
Where such behavior should never be condoned the source of such issues may not be as cut and dry as we adults might like to believe. Many times, kids can be very frustrated by their inability to control their own bodies or to verbalize their emotions. Understanding this, it’s important to teach them to seek failure as a learning opportunity. And not only that, also to learning how to program their own bodies through muscle memory and repetition. Equally important, learning to focus is great, but once we’re locked in, we must learn to perform consistently.
“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”
To aide in this development, we have designed many of our drills and lessons to promote better control. We always ask each student to complete a life skills worksheet and share their thoughts with their fellow students.