Thursday, November 13, 2008

Social Identity Theory

So I was having a really interesting discussion with a colleague about what classifies under the bracket of social identity.
I came up with race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability/disability, and age. He added national origin.

Then I started asking him questions like, what about people who are smokers, or left handed, or vegetarian, or war veterans...we went back and forth, and he finally gave me a new concept to think about: there is an unstated hierarchy of oppression. But it is unstated because then it puts oppressed groups in comparison mode...and when comparison mode starts happening, subjectivity obscures.

I wasn't compelled in a theoretical/intellectual way that smokers, lefties, vegetarians, and war veterans aren't considered social identities, because the hierarchy of oppression proves to be a subjective matter. But in a functional way I am compelled...but perhaps only because I am socialized to think that way? lol

Almost makes me want to go back and finish my doctorate! But I saw a t-shirt today that does tend to describe my approach to academics:

Finding the Connection

The longer you spend time with your martial arts training, the more you find connections the art has or the process of the art has with anything and everything around you.

Ultimately, all of any education is about learning about the universe and how it works. It's up to you to pick the vessel.

Sometimes, the vessel picks you!

Everything is interconnected. I'll give you an example. Right now, I am looking at a thick stack of Post-It notes on my desk. How does this relate to Chen Style Tai Chi or Choy Lay Fut Kung-Fu?
Well, it is made of paper, which comes from the Wood Element. It took a person to take some thing as pure as wood to convert it into refined paper. We could do that with our art - take it from what we learned it into something very unexpected. 
This stack of Post-Its is very thick. But each individual Post-It note is thin. But put all these thin strips together, and it becomes very thick and strong. Think about the details in our techniques. By themselves, they are pretty simple - turning the feet; shifting the weight; turning the waist; turning the hips, turning the trunk; turning the shoulders...all of these individually are not complex. Put them together, like this stack of Post-Its, become very thick and strong! (that's called synergy, by the way = the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).
Finally, the genius of the Post-It note, a piece of paper with some sticky stuff. Simple. The effectiveness is its simplicity. Very much in line with our strategies - keep it simple...stupid! (you know, KISS).

So in last night's grappling class that Sensei Andrew and Seth were teaching, I found a correlation with some of the stomping twist stance work that I've been emphasizing this term, with doing the kick around motion to doing an absolutely brutal leg lock. Sensei Andrew and I have been doing martial arts for over 20 years, and he could instantly sense when I made that connection, and I knew he knew I knew - all within a fraction of a second.

My most senior student, who is in Illinois, Putty, asked me questions about our Choy Lay Fut lineages and some of the traditions and history. I gave him a very philosophical answer that I'll save for another entry. But in the meantime, I thought that was a timely question, because I just uploaded this onto youtube: