Sunday, June 19, 2011

The goat, the white black belt, and the oversized pants

Let us compare three animals: a bull, goat and sheep. The bull is exceptionally powerful. On the one hand, when harnessed it can work wonders in the field. On the other hand, it can wreak havoc, destroy, and injure. In stark contrast, the sheep is a timid, cuddly, and docile animal. It may not have the power to plough a field but is benign and easily managed. Then comes the goat. The goat, like the sheep, is not a powerful animal, but exhibits stubbornness and aggression somewhat like a bull. In a sense, a goat is a sheep acting like a bull. And,  as a result, it lacks the advantages of both other animals: it is not easily managed (as is the sheep) and yet is not much use in the field when harnessed (as is the bull).           

When I was in my teens I took on martial arts. Even in my early stages of training, I would practice black belt moves. Why? Because they looked awesome! This approach really stunted my progress since I was incapable of performing black belt moves with the solidity of a real black belt, and I was avoiding any serious practice of my level-appropriate skills. In Yiddish you'd say I was 'nisht a hin un nisht a her' - not here and not there. I was nowhere. I was a goat. I refuse to make the same mistake in skateboarding. I now realize the importance of gauging my own skill level and practicing techniques that I'm ready for, slowly but steadily progressing to increasingly advanced tricks so that what I perform I can land with consistency, confidence, and finesse.  

At skate parks I've seen skaters that are always attempting highly advanced tricks but never seem to land them. Out of the many tricks they attempt at the park in any given session they may not even land one. On the other hand, I've observed skaters who perform more basic manoeuvres but with solidity and a smooth style. And, when they do attempt new tricks it is apparent that they're ready to master them.

It's obvious that wearing clothes that are too small may not keep one warm or may cause discomfort, while wearing clothes that are too big may cause one to trip over them. It's less clear, however, that a similar principle applies to other aspects of life. If a skater only repeats tricks that he's already pinned down, he fails to keep himself warm, that is, he's not developing himself to capacity. On the other hand, if he's usually attempting tricks that are beyond his ability - he's wearing clothes that are too large - he may injure himself both physically and in his progress in skating. It's important that clothes be tailor made to suit an individual, and it is important that skateboarding goals are well suited to each individuals skill level.                   


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