The black belt and the negotiator

Published: Jun 05 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

About 6 years ago my daughter then aged 8 decided that she would like to join her older brother at Karate lessons. I was delighted. So much so that I decided to join her at the adult class.

Unlike my son, both she and I have kept it up, and last Friday she took her Black Belt first Dan grade which she achieved. I was utterly thrilled and very proud of the commitment, hard work and determination that it took.

Following the grade I had a chat with the son of the Sensei (teacher) who runs our club. David Thomas is a 19-year-old Black Belt who won the Karate Open International Open Championship at 84 kg in Birmingham last weekend. He is a formidable fighter.

That said he has failed to win any major championships so far, despite many attempts. The obvious question was why?

David said in his last championship he had the benefit of a coach and observer to help him decide on the strategy for the fights. In the final, against an adversary he had lost to on several occasions, he asked his coach for advice.

This advice was, with hindsight, obvious, as much of the best is. David’s opponent is the master of counter attack. David’s coach had watched all his rounds up to the final and had observed that his preferred method is to wait for the attack and use that as the opening to score his own hit. David was told to be patient, controlled and not attack.

So that is what he did.

Frustrated by David’s strategy and unsure of what to do, the opponent eventually tried to attack and the rest, as we say, is history. David’s skill as a fighter was never in question, but the reality is that in these high pressure environments the win is about the small differences, edges that give one side the slight advantage. What Clive Woodword the Ex England Rugby Team manager called T-CUP. Total Control Under Pressure.

Often that edge can come from observing and analyzing the other side. Terribly easy to say, but very hard to do in the heat of the negotiating or fighting moment. Take a team member with you to help. They can help buy you time, figure out what is happening and give sound strategic advice.

That’s what Black Belts do.

Alan Smith


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