Civilize The Mind, But Make Savage The Body (part 2)


“Civilize the mind but make Savage the body.”
Pretty dope quote from a pretty bad dude. Dope enough for me to write twice about it.  I’m sure Chairman Mao was likely talking about how to make an ideal soldier, or leader, or generate some type of military might. I have no idea, as I did zero research for this post.

The way I look at it, “civilizing the mind” means developing a cultured, educated view of the world. Achieving a civil mind would involve familiarity with a history book coupled with awareness of current events. One would need the skill of learning how to think, as in the ability to maintain a view of the world that is reasonable and based on evidence. A civilized mind implies the capacity for keeping your shit together during stressful events, and acting in a manner that increases the chances of being accepted and admired by your social group. It also involves the wherewithal to know how to navigate complex hierarchies within business and culture, while maintaining personal integrity and not compromising personal values.

To make the body savage, one must be able to navigate their physical environment, and be able to adapt to the ever-changing situations that might, in one moment, call for the ability to pick something enormously heavy off the ground, and the next moment,  sprint for a short burst. Or run much longer if the situation calls for it. One would also need some general flexibility, agility, and of course, in order to make the body truly savage, one must have a general sense of how to choke a fool.
Some might call this approach “toxic masculinity.”  If so, please understand I am not calling for, or advocating aggression. The opposite, in fact. Rather, I’m suggesting we collectively expand and evolve the way we interface with the world. #lovewins, and stuff like that. In so doing, we simply need to recognize that we must also develop the capacity for savagery. That is, after all, what keeps us civil.




Boys and girls should have the same opportunities in life. In fact, I really don’t think there is a viable counter argument. Equality of opportunity between the sexes firmly belongs in the “no shit” category.  I’m posting this because the Boy Scouts will soon be the Scouts; meaning boys and girls are both admitted.  Before jumping to conclusions about my position here, please read on…  🙂

There are obvious benefits to boys and girls flying under the same Scouting banner, in that girls now get a chance to do all the cool stuff I got to do when I was a Boy Scout. Girls should absolutely be exposed to camping, fishing, tying knots, lighting the forest on fire, blowing up outhouses, and learning the vital skill of taking out swarms of mosquitoes with a cigarette lighter and a can of Off! The concept behind merit badges and attaining higher rank based on output is pretty cool too, I guess.
I’m speaking only from my personal experience and not trying to make broad claims here, but I think a lot of skills that I learned in scouting are better learned separately, unencumbered by the persistent distraction of trying to impress the opposite sex.  Johnny has a chance to learn some useful skills like finding a campsite and starting a fire.  Johnny will probably learn this stuff way more effectively if he’s not distracted; checking to see if Jenny noticed his pitched tent.  Furthermore, Jenny should be able to learn how to bait a hook without Johnny leering over her shoulder.  Most boys aren’t creeps.  Johnny, though?  Creep.

Here’s the deal… Johnny and Jenny get to see each other every day at school, go to the same parties, football games, dances, and ultimately, will have plenty of opportunity to work out the intricacies of male/female relations for the duration of their life. There is value in allowing boys and girls the option to develop along separate paths, knowing full well that those paths will eventually converge. So, in short, I’m all for equality of opportunity, and I’d up-vote an analogous, additional coed program. I simply think The Scouts meant well, but missed the mark for gender parity.



Inspiration for this blog came from The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Tim Kennedy.

Guerrilla Social Work Podcast

If you happen to check this blog, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted in a bit.  All my Killer J blog time has been redirected to a podcast.  I’m not done blogging, but that’s my excuse for the absence.  We’re on iTunes, Podbean, YouTube, and probably some other stuff.

Check it out!

Everybody’s An Expert

Have you ever met somebody that believes they are smarter, funnier, or more athletic than they really are?  Of course you have.  People like that are everywhere.  Hell, you probably are one of those people!  I know I “probably” am. 🙂  The Dunning-Kruger Effect explains this phenomenon, as it is a concept in psychology that presumes incompetent people tend to overestimate their ability in a given area.  Ask ten people if they consider themselves to be an above average driver, and I’ll bet most, if not all say they are above average.  That’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect at play.  How can everybody be above average?

The Dunning Kruger Effect is pretty easy to spot.  You hear it in everyday conversation:

While watching MMA with a group of friends, somebody will invariably say, “Why’d that guy let the other guy take him to the ground like that?  I’d have just punched him!”

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Maia vs LaFlare

“Just stand up!”

Watching football, “Oh my God, how’d he miss that tackle?  Just wrap the guy up and tackle him!”


“Just tackle him!”

Discussing politics, “All _____-wing people are complete idiots!  If they’d just _________, our society would be great!”

left vs right

Put your blinders on and pick a team. ‘Merica!

In medicine, “Doctors are idiots.  No way am I getting my kid vaccinated.  I know better.”

Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy, M.D.?

So, what can be done about a person that sucks at something, but thinks they are good?  They have to work on and develop considerable skill or knowledge in that given area in order for them to assume some humility and realize, “Hmm, I thought I knew about ______, but come to find out, I don’t know shit!”

Dunning Kruger

Dunning Kruger Effect (not my chart)

So, that self-righteous, finger-wagging dope that consistently rants about politics on your Facebook feed would have to humble themselves enough to genuinely learn the perspective of the “other side” in order for them to truly realize their belief system is based on a shaky, superficial understanding of things.  The mouth-breather watching MMA while yelling at the fighter on television to “Just stand up!” needs to get off the damn couch, step on the mat and get their ass kicked, i.e. learn, for a few months to realize what they thought they knew about fighting is laughable.

So, here is your challenge, dear reader.  Check yourself for incompetence!  Examine the beliefs you are certain you are right about, and open yourself up to the possibility that you probably don’t know what you’re talking about. The Dunning Kruger Effect doesn’t discriminate.  It can afflict all of us!

Challenge Yourself

We all have plenty of things to stress about.   Adding an additional, challenging thing to your life is probably not at the top of your list of things to do.  After a full day of nonsense, you probably want to plop down on the couch and call it a night.  There is some value in chilling out after a grind of a day, but when your “relaxation time” is continually spent being unproductive, it’s all too easy to fall in to a muted existence.  Many people enter a depressing pattern of going to work, paying bills, taking care of family issues, and then possibly disengaging their mind through the distraction television, movies, and social media provide before falling asleep only to do it all over again.  Boredom become the norm.


(not my image)

If you can relate to this, then pull yourself out of the doldrums by doing something hard!  Our minds are wired to make us feel great when we engage in a difficult task, struggle through it, and then achieve some sense of success.   Climb a mountain.  Pick up a foreign language. Learn effective ways to choke people.  Do something!


Experience and Rule Breaking

I have worked as a mental health therapist for twelve years and have been doing jiujitsu for almost ten years.  So, I have a decent amount of experience in both endeavors.  Both my profession and my passion require a lot of technique, and for beginners of either activity, the nuances of that technique might not be readily apparent.


From day one, I was taught to learn and drill technique for both.  Sound technique has saved me from getting choked unconscious by people countless times!  It’s also helped me while grappling people.  Developing proficiency in technique is how I improve; and is critical when I am confronted with some brute trying to hyper-extend my arm or getting through to a sullen teenager that was drug to my office by her parents because she won’t do her homework.

Recently, I’ve begun to discover it’s possible to break from technique and use “bad” form in certain situations.  It takes a lot of experience in a given activity to know when it’s okay to break from technique, as the consequences of doing so can be disastrous.  If I have my opponent’s back and while going for a rear naked choke I happen to break from good technique by crossing my feet in front of my opponent, I’m going to get ankle locked by anybody that’s been grappling for more than one month.  If I’m talking with a client that is processing their trauma and I take a break from good technique by having them talk about too much too soon, I run the risk of re-victimizing them right in my office.  Both those options suck.

The thing is, an experienced grappler will come across situations in which breaking from the use of “good technique” is correct, just as an experienced therapist will know when to push their client a little bit, even if it may appear to be a break from standard clinical practice.

I’m sure this concept has carry over to a lot of other domains as well.  Have you noticed this dynamic anywhere?

Motivation vs. Discipline

We are just over a month deep in to the New Year.  Have you already procrastinated your well intentioned resolutions until “next year,” or are you still going strong?  Your answer to that question likely tells the story as to whether you rely solely on motivation to achieve goals, or if you are also disciplined.


Understanding Motivation 

Motivation can be defined as the reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way, or the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.  Motivation provides the source of energy and inspiration to change something in your life.  Source of motivation for a person can come from inside oneself or external environmental factors. Source of motivation can arise from both positive and negative emotions.  A person can be motivated by wanting to achieve a higher level of functioning in a given area because they believe a reward may come from achieving that higher level of functioning.  For example, a person may choose to enroll in welding courses at a trade school so as to boost their future earning potential. In this case, a person is motivated to change a behavior because they believe a payoff will be realized once they change.  Or a person can be motivated to change based on a negative emotion or experience.  If you put your jeans on one morning and find that your gut has expanded such that you no longer need a belt to hold your pants up, you will either be happy that, through excess calorie consumption, you have efficiently consolidated the need for clothing accessories, i.e., a belt, OR, the more likely outcome, is you’ll feel a bit ashamed for letting yourself go.  The consequence of feeling shame is not a desirable feeling, therefore, you may be motivated to purchase some running shoes and leafy greens rather than Baconators and Ben & Jerry’s.  In any case, motivation serves as the emotional impetus for initiating behavioral change.

Understanding Discipline

 Discipline, in the sense we are talking here, is from the verb form of the word, and can be defined here as the act of training oneself to do something in a controlled or habitual way.  Discipline is a critical component to achieving goals; and is perhaps more important for long term maintenance of a new behavior than motivation.  Discipline, in the context of goal achievement, is a system for starting and then maintaining the new behavior.  This system is comprised of consistent, structured scheduling of the new behavior in to one’s routine, and the accompanying mindset of being willing to consistently do the behavior even if the motivation to do it isn’t there.  Motivation can be fleeting.  Some days a person may feel like engaging in the behavior they set out to do.  Other days, they may not feel like it because their motivation is low for whatever reason.  That’s the problem with relying on motivation alone.  It is fleeting.  Discipline, however, is constant.  A disciplined person engages in the behaviors whether or not they feel motivated to do so.

Understanding How To Blend Motivation And Discipline

Consider the metaphor of an internal combustion engine.  Motivation can be thought of as the starter motor.  In order to get the engine going, the starter motor must initially engage the engine.  Once the engine is up and running, it becomes self sustaining and the starter motor is no longer needed.  Discipline, in this sense, is the engine.   Both motivation and discipline are needed to start and then maintain a new behavior, but discipline is much more important for long term success.  Once a person is disciplined in consistently repeating a new behavior, a self-sustaining effect is generated, rendering the need for motivation as much less important.


Source of inspiration for this blog entry: