Cognitive Recalibration

[In the recent blockbuster hit, Avengers, Clint Barton found himself strapped down after Natasha Romanoff had won a fight with him so he could shake off Loki’s mind control.]


Romanoff: Clint, You’re gonna be alright.
Barton: You know that? Is that what you know? I got…I gotta go in though. I gotta flush him out.
Romanoff: We don’t have that long, it’s gonna take time.
Barton: I don’t understand. Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Pull you out and send something else in? Do you know what it’s like to be unmade?
Romanoff: You know that I do.
Barton: Why am I back? How did you get him out?
Romanoff: Cognitive recalibration.  (pause on Barton’s part)  I hit you really hard in the head.

Cognitive Recalibration. Lofty words for a simple concept.

For nearly 10 years now, I’ve been studying the martial arts so it comes as no surprise to those that know me that an action-packed movie where the good guys win would draw my interest … repeatedly.

Hwang Kee, the founder of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, stated that a martial artist is also a scholar, so while I train in the physical aspects of the art, I train in the mental aspects of the art also. including the related history, tradition, and philosophy of Soo Bahk Do.  One component to my training includes the Korean terminology for both the techniques and concepts.

It isn’t unusual to hear my instructor, Sa Bom Nim Dan Ellenbecker, call out the Korean words Shi Sun as I train in the dojang with the rest of the class. The words carry the meaning of focus or line of sight.  It’s an important concept and serves as a precept for all we do prior to executing a technique. Why? Simply because our intent will follow our line of sight. Looking left before striking left will very likely be helpful! This is common sense and while I’m very aware of the emphasis in the dojang, I sometimes find I haven’t engaged my Shi Sun in other areas of my life.

It wasn’t long ago that I found myself experiencing some difficulties in life. My struggle ensued for many months before I finally found the strength and courage to reach out to a few trusted friend to help me navigate the turbulent waters. The guidance I was given was varied, yet consistent; loving, yet firm; understanding, yet uncompromising.  One conversation stood out and continues to come to mind when I’m confronted with challenging situations.

Friend: You’re allowing your negative thoughts to determine your emotion. Change your thinking.

Me: I’m really down today. I feel broken.

Friend: I know … but if you continue to think that way, you’ll have a tough time changing your emotion.

Me: Where do I begin?

Friend: Don’t dwell on your issues. Watch a movie. Cook dinner. Take your kids to the beach. Think of anything other than your temporary troubles, even if only for 15 minutes. The more often you do that, the easier it becomes.

I took that advice. It helped, even if only for 15 minutes at a shot. Eventually I was able to sustain that for longer time periods as minutes grew to hours, and hours to days. In the end, however, it came down to my personal Shi Sun, my line of sight, as I determined the difficulty of walking one way while looking the other – or in doing one thing while thinking another. While he was stating it in simpler terms, my friend was instructing me to do mentally what Romanoff had done for her friend physically. Change your thinking. Cognitive recalibration.


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