The Power of Dumb

October 2nd, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized

Dumb (Dum Adg.- Lacking the power of speech; mute, unwilling to talk, silent; reticent.)

The above definition of dumb is from Websters New World Dictionary. If you think about it nothing in the definition is particularly demeaning.

Years ago in the early 90’s when I first started taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu my teacher Carlos Machado related to me a story about his uncle Helio Gracie stating to him that it was much easier to teach a dumb person Jiu-Jitsu than it was someone who was supposedly “educated.”

Like so many things in life again this is counter intuitive.

I too have been a teacher since I was 16 and the hardest, most challenging students are the intellectual variety such a graduate students, engineers, and some airline pilots.

I’ll take a country boy from a small town who doesn’t say much over a graduate student with a degree in Medieval German Literature any time.

One of the smartest things you can say is I don’t know.

Think about that. You’re admitting you don’t know something which could basically be construed as dumb, but is it really?

I would propose that one of the essential tenets of a teachable spirit is a quiet mind.

When you are there you are present and listening instead of chatter-boxing like a know it all or asking a mess of questions.

You are in the moment and observing.

One of the worst students I ever had was on paper a pretty smart kid. His parents were both intellectuals. He always wanted me to write everything down. He was paying me for my time, so I did but after a couple of years he had a stack of papers this high and still couldn’t play a note.

Another tenet of the over thinker is a constant need for reassurance and validation. If I am trying to teach someone Spanish and every time they start to get it a little bit they stop me and ask me “Was that right? Did I pronounce that last word right?” eventually their need for reassurance gets in the way of us having a conversation.

It’s why kids are so easy to teach. Their innocence and naivete opens the window to learning.

It’s the same way I feel about religion. All of this trying to explain the unexplainable.

Carl Jung put it best when he summed it up this way-

“Often religion is simply a defense against having a religious experience.”

Ask my friend Fred Hamilton. He is the professor of jazz guitar at my alma mater- The University of North Texas. When he has a student learn a solo he has them do it by ear. He doesn’t have them write it down and/or transcribe it or write out the rhythms.

It’s about feeling it more than thinking it, writing it, or trying to communicate the mechanics it.

We just had a workshop here with my friend Clint Strong a phenomenal guitar player and Clint pointed out to some very advanced guitar players that were here that he can sing every tune he knows.

Same principle- quiet the mind and listen. You’ve heard me say this before but it’s so true. Listen and you shall be heard.

I like to teach an alternative form of meditation to my students. Instead of-


I encourage them to just say-


To say it with conviction until you drool on yourself.

That’s the true path to enlightenment.

All the best, and get your dumb on.

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