For anyone actually following my online ramblings at this site or one of my other sites, knows that I am heavily involved in martial arts. I have been doing so for many moons now.
My martial arts practice preceded my law practice. But, the two, in essence, hold the same philosophy. They are branches of the same tree.
Martial arts is adversarial. Lawyering is adversarial. Both hold the idea that there is only one winner. Or in its more dramatic form; eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.
I have been doing martial arts for so long that it is an intimate part of me. It dictates and drives my waking experience. It is the same with lawyering.
Anyway, I brought martial arts practices into my law. I continually train to be calm in the moment of chaos. To wait that split second while an attack is happening before reacting to it.
In lawyering, this means to slow down and remove myself from the emotion that arises from some action being taken. Practically speaking, I will read the pleading or document, put it down and let it soak in, before replying.
This works wonders. What happens is that once I go beyond the initial emotive response, I can look at things with a clearer mind. Emotion clouds your thoughts.
In the ring, its hard to get beyond the fight or flight autonomic response. But when I do, I fight better. The soft spots on my opponent open up and I see those weaknesses with greater clarity.
In the legal arena its the same. You want to be able to control your emotion. You want to see the weaknesses in your opponent’s case. You want clarity.
Which is why emotions need to be controlled when it comes to fighting. Or in more polite circles, being adversarial. Uncontrolled emotions contribute to the chaos.
An exercise I have taken from my martial arts training and applied to my lawyering, is controlled breathing. This goes hand in hand with controlling emotions and gaining clarity.
It sounds like an idiotic thing to say but proper and controlled breathing makes a world of difference. For my Systema training, I am always working on breathing and how it affects my brain/body interaction.
For instance, I will hold my breath while doing leg lifts and go beyond that point where my brain is screaming for oxygen. Getting beyond that brings me to a place of knowing.
How I brought this into my lawyering is to hold my tongue when I want to immediately respond. It’s painful doing that. But time and again, when I practice this, my responses are better and more comprehensive.
To me, lawyering and practicing martial arts are synonymous. The same intent and philosophy expressed through two different mediums.
One thing I have to mention, is that you don’t want to be squash out your emotions. They make that fire in your belly. They make you passionate. They make your words burn and give you the ability to spit fire. You just want to control them.