Monday, May 24, 2010

Systems Ju-jitsu Part 1

The martial art Ju-jitsu is referred to as “the art of softness,” or, “the way of yielding,” Jujutsu evolved among the samurai of feudal Japan as a method for defeating an armed and armored opponent without weapons. Due to the ineffectiveness of fighting an armored opponent, the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy took the form of pins, joint locks, and throws. These techniques were developed around the principle of using an attacker's energy against him, or redirecting, rather than directly opposing it.

The Philosophy of Ju-Jitsu

Jujutsu expresses the philosophy of yielding to an opponent's force rather than trying to oppose force with force. Manipulating an opponent's attack using his force and direction allows jujutsuka to control the balance of their opponent and hence prevent the opponent from resisting the counter attack. Likewise, a systems perspective will allow leaders to appreciate the significant influence of forces like homeostasis, anxiety, and multigenerational transmission. In so doing leaders will expend less energy trying to directly “change the system” and instead focus on directing these forces to more appropriate direction or better ends.

Practitioners of Ju-jitsu have characterized states of mind that a warrior should be able to adopt in combat to facilitate victory. These include: an all-encompassing awareness, zanshin (literally "remaining spirit"), in which the practitioner is ready for anything, at any time; the spontaneity of mushin (literally "no mind") which allows immediate action without conscious thought; and a state of equanimity or imperturbability known as fudoshin (literally "immovable mind"). Engaging in playful corollary from an emotional process perspective we can connect: (1) “remaining spirit” as “staying connected,” (2) “no mind” as focusing on emotional process rather than content (response vs. reactivity), and (3) “immovable mind” as self-definition or the capacity for “persistence of vision” that is the by product of being clear about one’s informing principles and values. Practicing Systems Ju-jitsu, as we will see, can help keep the systems leader from becoming willful and from overfunctioning.

This series of blogs will focus on “Systems Ju-jitsu,” exploring non-willful tactics for systems leaders. Next: “Systems Ju-jitsu Part 2: The Use of Tactics.” 

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