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Elite Martial Arts

Don’t Make It Complicated

Posted: February 18, 2011

I recently read an article about Nordstrom’s Department stores and I thought about it’s relevance not only to martial arts, but to life in general.  For many years the Employee Manual for Nordstrom’s consisted of a 5″X8″ card with the following words:

Welcome to Nordstrom

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.)

During the time that Nordstrom’s followed this practice, they enjoyed a lot of success. Over the years Nordstrom’s has created a much larger employee manual, and has since lost some of it’s unique charm, and some of its loyal customers.  While it is still a great company to work for, it has consistently fallen down the list of the best companies to work for over the years.

Why do I bring this up?  In martial arts, as well as in life, simple is better.  We tend to greatly over-complicate things, and by having too many things to think about, the end result is usually a wrong decision or paralysis. (Nothing gets done, and we procrastinate.)

In Nordstrom’s case there would be disgruntled employees and frustrated customers.  In a self-defense situation, the martial artist thinks about what he should be doing instead of just doing it.  He may make a bad choice, or hesitate and become injured by his assailant.

In our classes at Elite Martial Arts, I have demonstrated this numerous times for our students using a simple reaction drill.  I give the students a simple visual or auditory cue and associate a simple technique to the cue.   As I add more variables and randomize the cues, the reaction time of the students increases exponentially. (It takes longer and longer to react as we have to process more and more information.)

The same can be said of teaching our children, especially young children.  We can teach kid’s a lot of different rules, and have them try to follow them all, (Good Luck with that) or we can teach our children to be of good character and have them make the best choices that they can.  In my opinion the second option is much better.

In life, we may never attain our goals if we make things too complicated.  Who would have thought you could learn so much from a 5″X8″ card?