Kendo, Flow & Productivity

Takis Athanassiou  —  September 4, 2013 — 2 Comments

Kendo, Flow & Productivity

A long time ago, when I was young, besides my efficiency and productivity endeavors[!], I had the opportunity to involved with and study various martial arts, both from a physical as well as from a philosophical and a historical point of view. Even though, never I have the time (or the ambition, for that matter) to reach to a belt, or go ahead to a higher level, I get some valuable lessons, that I use them later in my life, on various occasions.

A Framework of Thought

Two of the common denominators in all the martial arts I have studied, was the principles of a) the uninterrupted movement and b) the detachment from opponent’s movement. This was more true, in Kendo, especially because in this discipline you are training in the use of weapons (swords-Katana in particular, and Bokken in practice sessions).

Kendo, in its today form, is:

“a physically and mentally challenging activity that combines martial arts practices and values with sport-like strenuous physical activity.”(From Wikipedia: Kendo)

Later on, the same principles I have found in the writings of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi about Flow and I was surprised about the common ground shared both by martial arts principles and modern psychology.

Flow, in particular, is defined, as:

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”(From Wikipedia: Flow))

What was more impressive, though, was that, even though unconsciously, I was using the same principles in my day to day work and activities!!! For example when I was learning how to drive a car, every stimulus should be processed in order to executed. Now, that I’m in a state of unconscious competence! (according the Four stages of competence model) for that skill (driving), a major part of driving a car for me (and for most drivers) operates in a flow-like state.

A Talk About Productivity

I’m thinking especially about productivity! In my day-to-day work, I use various techniques for time management and for getting things done.

My mode of work is the result of a “hybrid” model of organization, time management and productivity, that shared common features with various schemes (Kovey’s Time Management), Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done – GTD, Prioritization, and other).

In this area, in the productivity area in particular, I find more and more myself, to implement these 2 basic principles (in accordance and support with the methodological/practical framework I use for my doing my work!).

Specifically, all the time it seems to me, that I employ the principles of:

  • uninterrupted movement: the basic principle says that, for example in Kendo, you shouldn’t stop your movement towards your opponent, exactly as a wave doesn’t have interruptions in its flow. In productivity terms, it means that you should observe, monitor and follow your physical rhythm of work, in order to enter in a state of Flow) or, as in martial arts stated, in state of Mushin, in which you can achieve a higher productivity and satisfaction from your work or activities you perform!
  • detachment from opponent’s movement: Accordingly, this principle, in martial arts, states that you movement should be not interrupted or follow the movements of your opponents because, in such way, you provide the initiative of movement (*attack or defense either way) and the advantage to you opponent. This has as the result, you to be trapped by his/hers movements. In martial arts, as in productivity or business, you should always (or try) to have the advantage and the initiation of activity (it is very important for you to be proactive in various situations*) and not disrupt your action or plans either from external parameters (calls, telephones, last time meetings, a quick advice to/from a coworker, etc) or from internal (hanger, fatigue, etc) but to follow your course of action without interruptions.

In that level it appears that all the major approaches (either it be martial arts, flow or productivity) share some common principles, all demanding, a similar level of attention and focus for their execution!

Do you, think, you can use any or these principles in your everyday life? Do you find them useful? Do you have experienced similar or other flow or productivity principles, would you like to share?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Takis Athanassiou

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Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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