Trust The Process


My dear friend, and one of my mentors Cecil Burch, wrote this piece about mentorship just recently. It was incredibly well timed, coming out literally as I was standing in front of two of my biggest mentors, Warren Stout and Craig Douglas.

I spent two days in front of a dozen students, all experienced and invited alumni and presented what Craig would call my “Thesis” after 9 years of study.

In short I learned my initial concept was strong, we identified where the work needs to focus, and we eliminated or set to review a large portion of the material I presented.  I’m feeling very positive about that. Which brings me to the title of the post. Trusting the process.

So, what is the process? Simple really. Identify the problem, do the work. That’s the mantra of all things Shivworks.  It doesn’t just apply to the practitioner though.  The pressure testing, the endless review, the discarding of what is useless, the peer review, and the revisions leading to evolution they are are part of a living curriculum.

“Do nothing that is of no use.”

-Miyamoto Musashi, The Book Of Five Rings

We aren’t just shoehorning our favorite techniques in (I identified some of my personal biases on techniques I chose to present during this weekend and removed them). We aren’t just thinking up ideas and BAM that’s a class now!  I was reminded by Craig all weekend that ECQC has been evolving for 20+ years. Material has been added, removed, adjusted. Warren recently revamped our entire BJJ lesson plan. He said things have evolved, we have to evolve with them. He’s refined our teaching methods and his own coaching methods. Instructors get weekly videos of the lesson plan and key coaching points so we are all on the same page.  This is the standard I have to perform to.  It’s relentless in search of improvement and constant self appraisal. There will be no resting on our laurels, no “good enough”.

I sat and the student gave me their honest feedback, every criticism, every part that felt disjointed. I was happy for it. That’s how I know I’m doing the right thing. I’m not looking for praise, I’m looking for truth. I’m trying to improve. I’m trying to add value to the work. I also think this shows me that they trust me, that they know they can speak freely, that they can be open and honest. It’s healthy, and it’s productive.  I’m proud of that.

I have a lot of work ahead of me. A whole new block of instruction, a reformat and then retest of day 1. Several test sessions with the local group on the individual pieces. Practice coaching the techniques selected. Review of the pressure testing.  Refinement of coaching points.   I need to find the language to frame the strategy adequately.  I’m going to be very busy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Shawn Lupka



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