How wushu fulfills our basic needs

How wushu fulfills our basic needs

Tonight SCWA put on a demonstration at a local restaurant. I’ve put up pictures from the event in my gallery. In a nutshell, it was pretty fun. Got to put a few more sweat stains on my new silk. Got to pretend that I know fanzi quan. Got to make the ground move a bit with my nan quan (literally). And got to hang out with lots of cool people from SCWA. It’s quite a family there. Actually, most wushu schools that I’ve seen are pretty much like a family. And like any family each wushu school has a different dynamic — a different way of interacting with each other.

The SCWA kids work hard, but they are all like brothers and sisters to each other, and you can really sense that when you hang out with them. Actually, I’ve felt that at other schools too. I guess it’s just normal. The main difference in schools seems to be in how they interact with the outside world — specifically other schools and their students and coaches.

Some schools are very private. They don’t like having much contact with outsiders, whether it be for political, social or just person preference reasons.

Other schools are very hospitable and like to interact with other students and teachers. These schools, oddly enough, seem rarer than you’d think. So many schools have a rather closed door social policy. Not all schools … and not to extreme degrees. But to find a school that is totally welcoming of any student, regardless of where they used to train or what their personal wushu-political view point is, is pretty darn rare.

Where am I going with all this? Nowhere really … just making observations. And I’ll be the first to admit I might be totally wrong here. I guess what it boils down to is that if I ever open a wushu school (God forbid) I’m going to be sure that I welcome all students who are willing to put in the time and effort to develop their skill in wushu. Heck, isn’t that what we’re all doing this for anyway? Getting on the team is cool (I’ll assume, since I’ve never done it), competing is fun (more or less), but the reason we’re all doing this is because we just want to improve and get better. Development — that’s the key.

I heard recently that there are 6 basic human needs. At least in our brain. I’m not talking about “food”, “water”, etc. But our brain needs 6 basic things to survive. And the first two groups of them are paradoxes. The first is “certainty”, which basically means that we need to feel like some things are reliable — that we can count on certain things being true. The second is “uncertainty” or to put it another way “variety”. If we become too certain about the way things are we start to search for avenues where we can be surprised or excited. And if we become too surprised and excited, we start to seek comfort and certainty. Pretty weird balance.

The third one is the feeling of “significance”. That we are special, unique and have something good to contribute to the world that others are unable to contribute. That we have a way to affect a positive influence (or perhaps a not so positive influence) on people. The fourth, oddly enough, is a feeling of “acceptance” by others … or I guess you could call it commonality. We want to feel accepted and understood, but at the same time we want to be recognized for our unique significance. Another weird balance.

The fifth basic human need is the need to “grow”. As human being we have a basic need to develop and grow. If we don’t grow, we stagnate … we atrophy … we die. We have to be developing and growing at all times. This doesn’t mean we’re necessarily growing in a good direction. The direction we grow in is ultimately up to us, I suppose. But we need to be developing regardless.

The final basic human need I actually forget. Hehehe .. guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

In any case, I find that most people’s behaviors can actually be linked to an attempt, at least on a subconscious level, to fulfill one of these basic needs. Every time I see someone do something I try to compare it to the list and see if it fits.

For example, why do we do wushu? Well, heck. It fulfills the first 5 basic needs! (It might fulfill the 6th if I could remember what the heck it was!) By doing wushu we have a feeling of “certainty” (need #1) that the class is there. Every time we go we know what to expect — a good workout — to learn wushu. We are familiar with the people and the surroundings at the school. On the other hand we also are constantly “surprised” (need #2) by what occurs in each class. What? Full sets today? Talk about your level of surprise and excitement and uncertainty raising. Phew.

We also get a feeling of significance. We’re unique because we’re doing something that isn’t necessarily mainstream and isn’t necessarily something that every ol’ Joe Blow does. We do this cool, weird sport called “wushu”. And we’re contributing to our schools in very unique, significant ways (need #3). On the other hand we’re also gaining a level of “acceptance” (rule #4) by our classmates. It’s like a family in our schools, and that’s a great feeling.

And finally, we have an incredible opportunity to develop and “grow” (need #5). Not just physically, but mentally and maybe even spiritually. There’s a saying that a strong mind can only exist in a strong body. Well … can’t work that body much more than after doing a few full sets and a big set of basics, right?

Anyway, just some things that popped in my head over the weekend and I thought I’d share them. If you want to discuss them further (notice I said “discuss” and not “argue”) feel free to e-mail me.

Anyway, after the demo we went to eat a restaurant. I haven’t transfered those pictures to my laptop yet so no gallery entry on those. Good food … a little cramped .. but that’s pretty normal for that big group of people.

I’m back home now and it’s time for bed. Hopefully I’ll get to write more later. Take care. Good night.


EDIT (11-April): 

I figured out what the 6th human need is that I mentioned on the 9th. It’s the feeling of “contribution” to the world around you. The feeling that you have assisted in the greater good and made a contribution of distinction and have helped your fellow man. But from what I read the “vehicle” you use to provide the first four needs dictates whether or not you’re able to fulfill the last 2. For instance if you use violence as your vehicle to gain “significance” (need #3), “connection” (which I referred to originally as “commonality” – need #4), and “variety” (need #2) then you’ll never have made a positive contribution to others. Basically, as I understand it, the first four are our base needs. These are needs that we’re always striving to fulfill. The last two are higher-level needs that are assisted by the way we achieve the first four.

This is just one idea, of course. You’re free to disagree as you see fit.

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