Simplicity

Recently, my wife and I downsized from our house in Oshawa to a townhouse in Ajax. The new place has half the square footage of our former house. This entailed a massive amount of purging before the move, starting in October and we are still going through the process in our new abode.

To backtrack, we bought our former residence in Oshawa in 2008, thinking that we would have a family and frequent visitors. We were also attracted by the sizeable backyard and the new subdivision. We had great times in this house. We put a lot of work into the house and in the backyard. We created great memories ranging from visits from family to cooking the vegetables from the garden to the annual Boxing Day parties with Mary-Anne’s family. We had great neighbours on both sides of our house as well.

However, things started to slowly change over the last twelve months and much had to do with the size of the house and the backyard. In addition, my wife started working at a different location which required a longer commute. The overwhelming feeling was that we started to feel like the house was starting to own us instead of the other way around.

By the end of September, we had come to the realization that we were no longer happy with the house. We decided to sell and downsize to a smaller abode. We set our sights on moving to Ajax to be closer to my mother in law and to reduce my wife’s commute.

Once we decided to sell, we had to start downsizing. Little did we know how daunting the task would be. The curse of a large house is that it’s incredibly easy to accumulate possessions, store it and forget about it. A word to the wise: if you have a reasonable idea that you will be moving within a year, start downsizing 12 months in advance. In hindsight, I wish that we had that much time. In any case, with a couple of exceptions, we consistently tackled the downsizing project from October through January 31st. That was a ton of work and we still have more to do. But we’ve come a long way.

In any case, we are increasingly embracing a downsized and simplified life. It already feels less stressful for both of us. And it will likely get even less stressful as we shed the remaining crap. 

Simplicity!

You might say, “what does this have to do with martial arts?”

Many martial artists go through similar stages of development. And many, in their eagerness to learn, often fall into the trap of “collecting techniques.” There’s nothing necessarily bad about this as this is quite common for many martial artists.

Over time, either on their own or under the guidance of an instructor, many will learn the limits of technique collection or cherry picking techniques from different martial arts. They will realize that collecting and memorizing hundreds of techniques is counterproductive and will lead them to a martial arts morass. At this point, many will start simplifying their martial arts and start to “downsize” their technique repertoire.

Simplicity is the key.

One of my favourite martial arts quotes comes from an interview of Tsutomu Ohshima, a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Karate. Part of the interview touched upon the issue of kata and Ohshima said the following:

They’d think that the guy who knows 30 kata is more an expert than the one that knows 25. I realized that the general public asks this kind of question – their mentality is variety, different kinds, the actual number. For the martial artist, it has to be completely opposite. We have to simplify, simplify, simplify. If you know 20, you have to make 10 kata better. If you know 10, you’ve got to cut to five, five kata that are really, really good. Even five kata are too many. Cut it to two. Each one performed 50,000 times. Do them 100,000 times, you realize that one kata is a little better than the other. Do the one that is better 50,000 more times. When you reach 150,000 or 200,000 times, then I think that kata is yours.

Hey! Doesn’t sound a little bit like downsizing? 🙂

At this stage of my life, I’m getting into the downsizing/simplifying mindset and I think that’s going to pay dividends. 

If you’re into Filipino Martial Arts, pay more attention to the concepts and principles of the art you’re training in rather than memorizing hundreds of techniques. Simplifying what you know does wonders for your performance and knowledge of the art!

No use in unnecessarily cluttering your life!

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2 thoughts on “Downsizing

  • February 24, 2016 at 4:36 pm
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    Hi Master Brian, I just read your post on downsizing. Great article! Oddly enough, we are also in the process of moving but crazy as it sounds, we are upsizing! There has been some purging but not as much as I had hoped. Anyway, I appreciate the sentiments in your article and definitely agree with the application to martial arts.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2016 at 4:43 pm
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      Hello Sensei Sally! Good luck with your upsizing move and I hope that it all goes well! Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

      Reply

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