Was Odysseus in Dubai?

dubaisundown - Edited
After two weeks in Tōkyō, I am now giving a few classes here in Dubai. The group of Bujinkan UAE, led by Anjaan is doing well, and new faces have appeared on the mats. The beauty of this training group is that it changes a lot as people come to work in Dubai for a limited time. Also, it is a melting pot of nationalities from the Middle-east, to Asia, Europe, and the Americas. They should call it the “Babbel dōjō!”

I’m often travelling to Dubai when I’m back from Japan or India. I love to stop here for a few classes when I can. However, my post today is not about Dubai, but about how wrong we can be as a result of expectations and overconfidence.

We know the tale of Odysseus coming back from the Trojan war. And his neverending 10-year trip back home to Ithaca. (1) During his adventures, Odysseus had to pass the dangerous Strait of Messina (Sicily). The legend said that two sea monsters the protected it: Charybdis and Scylla. (2) (3)

I was sad to leave Japan but happy to get out of the deadly heat wave. Training on this trip was more demanding and resembled a sauna experience. Naively, I thought that the Dubai heat would be drier. I was wrong! Like Odysseus, I went from one heat monster into another one.

The same lack of awareness or discernment is common when we train. In Budō, we call these “sea monsters”: expectations, and over-confidence. In Mutō Dori, expectations are wrong because there is no technique, thus nothing to expect. Moreover, if you are overconfident in your abilities, the wake-up call can be painful.
dubaiheatDo not expect anything, but be prepared for everything.

Speaking with Anjaan yesterday, he said, “this is like mixing the Dunning-Kruger effect with Murphy’s law!” That is so true!

“In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.” (4) Murphy’s law needs no explanation. (5)

On Expectations
Before I left Tōkyō, Anjaan wrote that many students are on holidays. However, yesterday thirteen participants joined this first class. So that was unexpected. Do what to do to the best of your possibilities even if you are alone. Excellence doesn’t need an audience!
On Overconfidence
At the Bujinkan UAE dōjō, I did my best to share what Sensei did in Japan, but I couldn’t. Because I understood what he did, I presumably thought I could do it. I was wrong.
An extended period of maturation is necessary to transfer new knowledge from the brain to the body. A few months are needed, at least, to get that in my taijutsu, if I can ever incorporate it.

Expectations and Overconfidence are not the proper Mutō Dori.

In the Bujinkan, we learn that failure is always Ok. When I took off from Narita, I knew that it would not be easy. The oracle told Odysseus, before leaving, that his return trip would take years. So, both Odysseus and I knew our fate before leaving (except that I didn’t need an oracle).

At the Bujinkan UAE dōjō yesterday, I was not “expecting” to “have it,” but I tried it anyway. There was no surprise; it was like “Banpen Fugyō” of the Gyokko Ryū. Hatsumi sensei with his Mutō Dori prepares us for it! Be always ready and never surprised!

On a side note and between you and me, Odysseus didn’t make it to Dubai. The Suez canal was not built yet, and I’m not sure that the beautiful Dubai existed yet. (6)

6. I read that a “Suez canal alternative” existed during Greek and Roman times. Naval exchanges linked East and West through the oceans. In Cairo, a canal connected the Nile to the Red Sea. The Egyptians called it “the customs’ canal” for logical reasons. Since then, the canal doesn’t exist anymore. But I read that, in Cairo today, you can still see a greenish line caused by higher humidity in the soil. The green line is perpendicular to the Nile and heads towards the Red Sea. But, our friend Odysseus would have needed another ten years to go to Dubai and go back home.
PS: sorry for the picture. 🙂
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