New for 2020 · Watch Some INTJs on Youtube!
Let's shatter the myth that INTJs are all the same, or restricted to this or that description. I've met and coached many INTJs and they're all unique. Below I've linked to a number of talented individuals I've watched on Youtube who ring my INTJ buzzer. Enjoy!
BT Brian Transeau, Grammy-nominated musician specializing in electronic music.
Louis Cole Versatile musician drawing industry respect despite an unconventional approach to performance.
Davie504 Bassist and Youtube personality. Remember to slap like.
Captain Disillusion! Effects analysis expert. Raised by literal circus performers.
Dolph Lundgren Well-known actor, martial artist, and gifted Thinker.
Jordan Peterson Clinical psychologist. Controversial figure from Canadian academia. Expert on Jungian theory.
Joaquin Phoenix Superstar, Oscar-winning actor.
Erik Singer Dialect coach and Movie Accent Expert.
Edward Snowden US national security whistleblower. Computer systems expert.
Trader Travis Options trading coach. Winner, 2019 US Investing Championship.
Jocko Willink Former US Navy SEAL. Performance-oriented motivator. Strategic thinker.
What do I look for when I type INTJs?
There are thousands of variables that go into my analysis of an individual's personality type. I never, _ever_ let one or two traits determine how I type someone. Instead, I start from the big picture. In reviewing an individual's works, I have determined three trademark INTJ gifts which intermesh deeply with everything an INTJ does: Composure, Quality, and Manifestation. I hope to write more about these in the future, so get subscribed and let's keep learning together.
Integrating New Perspectives on Debate
Thursday September 24, 2020
From @ProfSunnySingh, a tweet about debate
I would be delighted to accept an invitation in the future should there be an opportunity for a reparative and contemplative – rather than adversarial – exchange of ideas.
There’s something that really resonates here. I’ve personally been wondering lately: Why isn’t the classical debate really done so much anymore? And when it is done, why is it so niche?
TBH after watching some old debates and thinking about this, they were kind of cringe in that adversarial or exclusive sense. I had to think it wasn’t super necessary, and it may have even been harmful, to arrange a clash of ideas like that. And the idea of “winning” a debate…hmmm…that’s kind of a one-dimensional way to look at human creativity.
As much as this may pain some of us INTJs, we who prize the act of winning others’ deference with just the right knowledge-nugget or a statistic example shared at the right moment, it really could be that debate needs a replacement-activity.
It seems clear to me that really nailing the positioning of a knowledge-nugget or a stat or an example on a linear timeline, as part of a competition is quite different from the broader patterns around engaging in productive discourse, and probably pretty unnecessary—or maybe unnecessary depending on the context.
(I also believe we’re creative enough to come up with vastly superior replacements for things we don’t want to do anymore, in general. Kind of an underrated human trick. We INTJs can totally nail this with our intuition sometimes—take a new spec for a thing that doesn’t exist yet, and conceptualize the exact form of that new thing. And maybe we can do that with things like debate, when pained voices tell us that debate is hurting them. A “better debate” without those downsides is likely doable with some thought.)
In the past I have enjoyed some of the Intelligence Squared debates and they do seem a bit more like conversations than other debates I’ve watched or heard. But I also haven’t heard what the experience is like for the debaters.
There’s also the model wherein “NT” types are the “debaters,” in which for all we know, the other personality types find debate ridiculous, stuffy, annoying, embarrassing, tacky, insulting, or stressful. While this model is limited, it does surface the question of how suitable debate really is, for a society at large, as a cultural co-development tool.
INTJ Men and Feelings: Ever Feel Faster than a Feeler?
Thursday September 24, 2020
A good question:
I am an INTJ female and I have a question about INTJ men. Do INTJ men ever wonder if they “feel” better or more effectively than the feeling personality types in their life? For example, sometimes I can easily feel the unspoken truth that someone likes or dislikes me. I usually have to do something about it because it can cause a very distracting effect. It almost feels like I’m the one soaking up the emotional impact for both of us. In most cases these are feeler-types, like ENFP, INFP, INFJ…
And you often end up acting on this before they do, right? This is a pretty wild topic…I find it really deep and interesting to think about, myself.
Maybe because I don’t think of myself as 100% Thinker…
And to answer your question, yes, I’ve met more than a few INTJs who are really impressively attuned to the Feeler-side of life. Here are some aspects I’ve noticed:
- They may have learned to speak and write in a gentle, sensitive way
- They may have already processed the need for a values-oriented life, so they’re quick to talk in values-oriented terms and set healthy boundaries, for example if they’re pressured to make a decision that goes against their values
- They may display outward emotion in ways you’d never expect
- They may have a good hold on charisma and are able to use it in a flexible manner
- They may generally like this feelings-oriented part of themselves and enjoy interacting with it in a positive way, expecting and reaching positive outcomes
- They may have a surprising capacity for actively taking on, and working through “relationship logic” when troubles arise
In a lot of cases, these individuals were raised by, or in part by, feelers. Maybe mom was an ESFJ and dad was an INFJ, for example. In some other cases, maybe both parents were Thinker types, and the INTJ ended up magnifying their Feeler-side in order to differentiate in some ways.
Some INTJs have told me it’s a bit “hard to watch” their Feeler friends who seem to deprive their feelings a voice. For example, an INFJ friend who constantly projects a thirst for the logical-analytical side of life during an ongoing relationship crisis, or an ENFP friend who is obsessed with information processing in the face of a mounting personal values crisis.
This is not to say those situations or approaches are “wrong” for those other people, but rather I think it’s fair to say that it can be frustrating to watch others ignore those aspects of life, when you yourself have found tremendous value in giving more direct attention to those aspects of life.
And if you’re relatively new to this kind of thing as an INTJ, maybe watch out for projection, the “I felt it first, and you’re not even able to get at your feelings, how sad is that” take.
You may also find that this additional capacity can indeed bring you to clarity faster, in some ways, than the others with whom you are working or relating. For example, you may find it necessary to communicate the fact that you’re just done with a process or context, because you already know everyone else is, too, through empathic intuition or communications.
At these junctures I do find it helpful to be forthright yet gentle in communications, but I also think it’s wise to ask for feedback during the process of disengagement or other decision-making. One of the worst things you can do is to act condescending or make assumptions. Being conflicted about one’s own feelings, and possibly feeling mostly one way or another is different from being completely decided about how one feels, and it can hurt others to treat them as if their minds are definitely made up, when in fact they are simply not sure how to express the depth and complexity of what they’re feeling.
As a final point to consider, I’ll just add that sometimes you simply can’t engage with Feelers or Thinkers in a Feeler way, at all. Maybe they’ve gone stubbornly silent, even though you both know that it’s time for them to express themselves.
I find that’s a good juncture at which to bring in a gentle sense of humor, or bring up a random thought, and see if it can help to lighten the mood a little bit. Sometimes the best thing you can do is allow people to move on to a different line of thinking, and often they’ll later demonstrate in other ways that they really got the message that you hoped they would get.
Anyway, it’s always good to talk about this, a worthy topic. Especially given a mental model with such a dichotomous look at personality aspects: Thinking vs. Feeling. But life is really much more complex than that.
Framework not working? It happens!
Wednesday September 23, 2020
As my more frequent readers probably know, I am always working on new frameworks.
If I know I’m going to be doing something again in the future, or working more on a given topic in the future, chances are I’m starting a file on that thing, getting organized, and keeping track of my progress.
Here are some of my own recently-updated frameworks:
- CAD and CAD Software Learning Framework
- USB Disks & Micro SD Card Notes
- Bluetooth Headphones Notes (You start these when your devices come with trash instructions)
- Lazarus & Free Pascal Notes, for Object Pascal
- Crypto Trading Log (More like a framework with a log)
- Movies & TV Notes
- Fiction Writing Framework
- Weekend Framework
Regarding frameworks, sometimes I hear this from INTJs:
I don’t know. It’s like, I have this cool framework which helped a lot in the past, but things have just stopped working so well, even though I still have the framework. And I wonder if I’ve really made any progress at all.
This is usually an “I’m a beginner when it comes to creating my own frameworks” signal. WAIT, HOLD ON, HANG IN THERE is my first sentiment—a strong one, probably because I made some big mistakes here myself in the past.
Capture the Dip
You know how there’s this “buy the dip” concept in investing and trading? There’s a similar idea in framework-maintenance. I think I’d call it capture the dip. Every actively-deployed framework will encounter a slump from time to time. The old stuff no longer works as well as it used to.
The truth is, you may be right on the cusp of a powerful learning experience. You have to keep updating your frameworks, and this is especially true when a framework is not working as well anymore, or seems to have lost leverage.
I’m not talking about overwhelming yourself with details. Sometimes you get frustrated and need to back out for a day or a week or a month. That’s fine. Take a break and come back later. But what you have here is typically a very strong learning opportunity.
One of the best things you can write in your log is: “This isn’t working as well as it used to. I wonder why?”
But if you sell the dip, or in other words give up on the framework, you can only expect your motivation and energy levels to go down. You are draining your emotional capital. Don’t drop out on a dip unless you have strong, organized reasons as to why and when you are doing so. (Even as a trader, I don’t sell a security on a dip unless it meets specific, measured criteria)
In most other cases it’s best to regroup, strategize, and execute. Especially if you’re a beginner at this.
Grab the A2i Loop or your favorite iteration and leverage tool and start your detective process:
- What seems to be off?
- What could be causing that?
- Any ideas you could test?
- How did the testing go?
- What can you add to your framework?
You got this—don’t give up. If you can perceive, you can reflect. If you can reflect, you can learn. If you can learn, you can grow. If you can grow, you can change. If you can change, you can build new success on top of stalls, failures, and regrets. You probably have no idea how awesome your life is about to be.
Programming Notes & Investing / Trading Notes
Wednesday September 23, 2020
Some other notes received recently:
INTJs and Programming
Awesome blog! These two posts are particularly awesome:
I’ve also read the follow-up to the second post, An INTJ-friendlier Introduction to Programming. Reading your blog is like talking to someone that knows you really well, as weird as it sounds.
You are very welcome.
I will add that I know quite a few INTJ developers & software engineers who are doing OK. Check out Andy Sterkowitz for someone who’s new to me, yet seems to give off a lot of INTJ vibes.
I also understand that programming / software development can be a PITA job for a lot of reasons I outlined in those articles above.
It’s always a good idea to organize your thoughts on this stuff and work to framework it / manage it before the problems get out of hand. Identify strengths, build on them, measure progress. Capture weaknesses, isolate them, track them like a detective. Remain open to growth and leverage positive growth experiences into new areas where you know you need to grow.
Investing / Trading Resources
Do you have any other resources that can help with some fundamentals/principles of investing? Books/blogs etc
One book I would recommend without hesitation: Don’t miss O’Neil’s book, How to Make Money in Stocks, because it contains a lot of beginner material, plus a model for protecting one’s capital, trading under varying market conditions, etc.
If you open a TD Ameritrade account, you’ll also immediately get access to ThinkorSwim, which has the most epic trading interface and that alone can provide some “how does this work, I want to drive the starship” motivation. ;-)
Some Other Questions: Fighting, Stocks, Food, Fires, Ham Radio
Monday September 21, 2020
PJMA is not really a fighting art. This is confusing to me, even though it seems interesting overall.
It is. It’s just not your fighting art. We introverts love our past experiences, so you may have to build some room for new stuff.
Look, I hate to say it but INTJs can be just as shallow as anybody else when it comes to the world of comparative sensation. We love our Se (extraverted sensing). Everybody’s got these extraverted psychological function-stances to deal with. And the extraverted stances tend to be really shallow. It’s fun most of the time. But if we’re glued to this kind of thinking, it can lead us down a really deceptive garden path where we make a lot of assumptions and take a lot of really silly positions.
Try this with another INTJ: Start talking about which martial art is most effective. Then bring up weapons. At some point, bring up guns and watch as you leave “effective fighting martial arts” in the dust. Then bring up special units, tanks, jets, missiles. Then bring up power politics.
Now ask yourself: If handguns exist, do we really need physical striking arts? If missiles exist, do we really need handguns?
This is the shallow thinking I’m talking about, when it comes to sensational power projection. It’s porn. You can turn any old sensational thing into porn by taking away real context. The minute you move out of actuality and into theory, you’re in a different world and you have to recognize that or your thinking can get sloppy fast.
The goal of PJMA is to recognize that differential, harness it, and work down from theory into the design of practice.
I once had an INTJ martial arts instructor who taught me one of those “top five most realistic, effective martial arts” martial arts. And here’s how that went:
- We danced and rolled around with each other doing sets of moves and comparing hypotheticals.
- I was mainly supposed to study on my own at home.
- At some point he’d say, “see, I just choked you out.”
- But he didn’t choke me out because he didn’t carry insurance.
- And I didn’t want to be choked out. I’ve been choked out before.
- So we nodded our heads and moved onto another pretend scenario.
- I mean what do you want! We’re theorist INTJs. This was our reality. It was a tacit agreement. We were both OK with this. We were learning theories, ideas, movement strategies. At some level, it was helpful, and the rest of it just was what it was.
Depending on how things are where you live, it’s usually either an arrangement like this or it’s a sport, like the way you can treat MMA or Judo or BJJ or wrestling or TKD as sports…games are generally an area that the martial arts community manages pretty well.
PJMA simply gives you a framework from which to say, “OK but what do I actually need, and what can I do about it?”
By focusing on the end goal (the justice framework / concept) we’re able to be flexible with the means and adjust as needed. This is how you open up those twin axes I wrote about earlier.
And from that same point of view (what end do you need) it’s OK to goof around and say “I pronounce you choked out” or to literally choke someone out. That question becomes less of a groaner. I always saw a lot of value on both sides of the groan (i.e. only learn if you can be deadly serious vs. play around and have fantasy fun while learning a bit), and one thing that PJMA will do well is argue for people on both sides of the groan.
Are you bullish or bearish?
I don’t really trade on that market-scope sentiment either way, so I’m not the best person to ask, I think.
- I like to be bullish and I like to see things working out well. This is a simple but powerful framework for me.
- I’m really grumpy when I’m a bear, so I would rather formally manage bear-risks with a framework. I don’t like being a grump or a doom-prediction guy. It just doesn’t feel very nice to me anymore and it doesn’t make for great conversation either.
- Therefore I look for bullish outlooks and it’s kind of my hobby to identify them.
- When people take their money and leave the market for extended periods, I can identify (I’ve done that before) but I probably am not going to do that (I regretted it).
- Always protect your capital. Your framework should manage this for you.
- This is not financial advice, it’s just what I do. You do you…but please take stock, measure things, see what works best for you.
(I’m not the best trader in the world or anything…just out there tryna make a buck…)
Can you recommend a stock?
I don’t pick stocks, sorry. Right now I don’t tend to hold any single security longer than a week. For some interesting securities to research, you might check out @StockDweebs …and again, don’t take this as investing or trading advice.
A lot of INTJs who are value investors tend to be short-term bearish and I find that they’re pretty easy to spot on Twitter, so if you, too hear index funds calling your name, arise and discover your kindred. Warning: A lot of sarcasm can be found here.
Are you sensitive to specific foods? I think a lot of INTJs are.
I used to be way more sensitive to foods than I am now. I’d say the higher my life pressures, the more sensitive I become. Something like that. I’ve done gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar, sugar-free, AIP, and those are just the sensitivity ones.
Least favorite was AIP. If you’re going to do that one, it’s important to iterate really fast, and ask yourself how well it’s working on an hourly basis. I didn’t do this and by the second day I was so frigging frustrated with everything. Man, food matters a lot.
But all of those diets require a pretty savvy grocery shopping trip along with serious cooking skills, and I have to thank my amazing wife for always taking such good care of me.
Are you safe from the California wildfires?
Thanks for asking! Yes, we are OK. October is still to come, and that’s been a dicey month in the past, but we are ready to go if the evacuation notice arrives.
You’re into ham radio. Do you help with the fires at all?
Not really these days. I’ve helped in some little ways in the past, like sending message traffic along to people who need it. It can be pretty stressful TBH. I almost hate to say it, but having used a ham radio in emergency conditions, I now associate activity in ham radio with emergencies, and that’s kind of annoying. It’s almost painful. Knowing I might lose my home, neighborhood, etc. in the middle of the night, while sleeping, was extremely scary. Thinking about things that are related to that perception also tends to raise those stressful feelings. I think of:
- Ash sitting on my ham radio gear
- Smoke in the air
- No power unless I’m running the generator
- The sound of generators running throughout the neighborhood
- Business activities disrupted
- Information never as up-to-date as you hope
- Running to the gas station late at night to avoid lines
- Carrying a toolbox / tool bag around with you for extra preparedness
- Weird questions from people who know you’re a ham radio person
- A dark home
- Dark bathrooms are the worst, IMO
It’s just not that great.
For this reason I look forward to exploring even more of the the fun parts of the ham radio hobby in the future, to kind of balance things out. I don’t want to nope out because of some stressful experiences; I know there’s a lot to love about it.
I don’t think I was even close to being an essential emergency communicator. I did train some other people on emergency comms though, and that worked pretty well.
If you don’t have a ham radio though, keep in mind that in a lot of countries, US included, you can get one just to listen to, and you don’t need a license, and you might hear interesting things there that you won’t hear anywhere else. I have also been surprised at how useful local FM broadcast radio is during an emergency.
Difficult Clients: On Working With People, but Without Certain Other People
Monday September 21, 2020
Since you’re a business owner and an INTJ, I wanted to ask about something that has been bothering me lately. I own what I now understand to be the “stereotypical INTJ business”. I provide IT services. Most of the time it’s just me in a quiet room with a bunch of hardware sitting around, and the introversion factor is nice. Plus I’m good at managing systems. But lately I’m starting to hate my own business, even though I’m good at it (I think?).
Being honest I think I really just dislike some of the clients I’m working for. They contact me at all hours of the day, and I start to feel blamed for their problems, and then I end up writing some harsh words when I email or text them back. I always regret it after the fact. I get defensive, then offensive, then I crash. I feel like I need to take a week off, or a month off, or just go work for “the man”.
Is it common for an INTJ to start to hate their own business because of their clients? Do people really matter that much to us INTJs? What can I do about this?
Patrick—sorry to hear about this. I know what it’s like to realize you are working with clients who are not a good fit.
And to the degree that a given INTJ is not a people person, yes, I would expect that people will actually matter more to them and their business, in the “people seem to suck and they destroy my life” sense.
Not that people suck in general, but that the INTJ is not dealing actively with people issues, so the INTJ is in effect letting a psychological blind spot cause their life to feel like a tragic lesson in how much other people suck.
1. Sometimes you really do have to let clients go in order for your business to feel like a success again. I am sure you already know this, or feel this, intuitively. The problem is that doing anything about it usually seems like an absolute pain or a potential disaster in the making.
This is a huge downside to not being a people person. Sometimes you need to solve people problems, or else they’ll tend to accrue or pile up. And I find that the resulting delay in making decisions due to the “I’m not experienced here” factor can convince you that your business is not working. This is one of the worst feelings you can feel! The intuition then tends to jump on the “life is going to be awful” prophecy bandwagon really fast.
2. Don’t sweat the messaging too much—focus on how long it’s been since you moved that ball forward.
As a group, INTJs are not exactly known for breaking the news to people gently. If you’re in that box, at least try to be formal about it. And instead of focusing on the right wording, make sure the wrong wording isn’t in there. Try to avoid anything personal, because that usually goes deep on both sides and can turn the entire relationship into a prolonged game of perspectives-chess, rather than a business relationship.
Other traps include getting sucked back into the business relationship too easily, for example if there’s more money on the table, and failing to look after the needs of the client on your way out (“by the way, your project is dead in the water because I’m leaving, so you’re screwed”).
Put a date on your calendar by which you’ll part ways with your #1 “needs to go” client. Remember that this may even have upsides for them. And be sure to follow through.
3. It can help to write down some on-boarding lessons while you’re here. How might you have identified these clients beforehand? Are there specific personality types or traits with which you struggle?
I used to think that if a choosy client selected me, that meant that I was special. Boy was I wrong about that one—a lot of choosy clients are trying to convince you to work for them by talking about YOU rather than them. If they can build up some momentum, swinging your ego around like that, they’ll keep all of your concerns about THEM at bay.
Be careful if you get caught talking a lot about your experience and why you’re special, not just qualified. A lot of times that means something’s wrong and the focus is on the wrong person. Usually there’s a good balance of “I’m great, you’re great” in normal business discussions, if they even move to that topic.
4. Consider starting your own client selection framework. What kind of clients are a good match for you? Some business owners tell me they work best with teams that take on a lot of new projects. Other business owners tell me that they like clients who are curious and open to new project proposals from their INTJ vendor.
There’s also the concept of “red flags” and you may find it helpful to start keeping a list as part of your framework. Some examples of red flags:
- Do they sound desperate or helpless? Do they talk about you like you’re the superhero they need in their hour of tragedy?
- Do they text you? How’s their grammar? When do they text—what time of day? What day of the week?
- Do they complain about computers and throw their arms up when attempting the most basic computer-related tasks?
- Do they complain about their last business partner or vendor? Was the complaint nuanced and humorous, or blame-heavy and full of projections?
- Do they make demands?
This list can go on and on, and it should include aspects that concern your area of specialty, or your least-favorite aspects of work, communications, and business. For INTJs, the more subjective the better in some ways. Afterward you can run this by some uninterested third party and ask if any of your red flags seem too harsh.
5. Take your time, set fair policies, and communicate them. Have you thought about sleeping on those stressful emails? And maybe making that part of your business process or policy? Evening and weekend business communications are really risky, IMO, for high-stress INTJ business owners.
INTJs usually want to be responsive, but when we’re taken away from our “me time,” we can easily overdo an irritated response and send the wrong message.
Plus I don’t know about you, but I’m way less cranky and way more solutions-oriented after a good night’s sleep.
Every good business has policies. Do you have a work-hours policy? A policy is known as a “third point of reference”—a way to say, “nothing personal; it’s not me, it’s not you—I’m replying to you now because my business hours are already set by policy, and they’re in our contract.”
6. Identify relationship problems early so you can try different solutions. I’m ending with this one because nobody wants to go around firing clients, and I think we all want to be pretty nice to other people during the current pandemic. So it’s a good idea to ask yourself at frequent intervals: Am I enjoying this client relationship? Is it working for me?
Touching on these questions before any big fires start will help you to trust yourself more. You’ll intuitively recognize yourself as more of an effective people person, just by asking those questions more often.
This also gives you more time to try different solutions. For example, you can decide in advance to turn down that upcoming project in a polite way, or cut down your time spent with a client, or negotiate with them a little bit, or make some new policies and see if that helps. There are tons of things you can try.
But yeah, sometimes if you’re in over your head, a cessation of the working relationship really is a good call. If you can keep it professional, you’ll probably be OK and I’ll bet you’ll feel a lot better soon.
Patrick, I wish you and your IT business all the best. Enjoy that introversion time!
To the rest of you—I will close by emphasizing that IT can be an awesome career or job-space, and you can end up working with really fantastic people while paying the bills. There’s no “one and done” career choice for an INTJ, and in many cases even a poor career situation can be worked into something much better.
(Happy Batman Day!)
Man that's Depressing
Friday September 18, 2020
I just wrote a new article on productivity. It was lengthy, nicely detailed, and minutes away from publishing.
In the process of wrapping things up, I somehow disabled my own fail-safe draft protection system and lost the article. Yeah, them fail-safes, pretty useful when you don’t use them. LOL.
Now I have a draft that’s one major revision old, but that version totally sucks and builds on a completely different set of ideas, and I don’t have the energy to pick it up again.
To hell with this, let’s have some tunes. I don’t care how random, just something that will temporarily erase the pain of this moment. Hit it, tunes jukebox.
It was all about how you can design productivity…treat yourself as a designer, develop a spec, iterate through different ideas…
And I mean, it’s a useful perspective, you can treat your day like you’re a designer…get the outcome you want, instead of the same outcome you’ve had every day recently
(Got the COVID test results back, the whole family is negative…thank god)
And really the design roadblocks for an INTJ aren’t super hard to move out of the way…it’s a matter of knowing about the Ne-blindspot effect, and accepting a multitude of ideas rather than insisting that you know the single good idea…
…there’s more to it than this, but for now I’m zapped, sorry.
OK I’m off to watch Gilles for a bit …take care everybody, and enjoy the weekend.
The Two Key Axes Motivating PJMA Development
Thursday September 17, 2020
I wanted to talk a little bit about the philosophy of my Personal Justice Martial Art (PJMA) without making the original article even longer, so in this article I’ll touch on some specifics which motivated the formation and design of a new art.
These are philosophical specifics, focused on two key axes which are relevant to all martial arts philosophy.
Axis 1: Big picture vs. little picture thinking
“The localization of the mind means its freezing. When it ceases to flow freely as it is needed, it is no more the mind in its suchness.” —Bruce Lee
There currently exists a tragic deficiency in the gap between big-picture and little-picture thinking in the martial arts.
When one does come across metaphorical-philosophical constructs (like the quote above) or big-picture thinking, it is rarely connected, organized, or even explicitly explained. Instead it’s offered as more of an open-ended thinking exercise. This is fine in some ways, yet it also wastes a lot of leverage. Big-picture thinking is a powerful tool in real life situations, whether any particular person will acknowledge that or not. PJMA treats these thought processes as integral design features, as opposed to little intellectual scraps found here and there on the dojo walls.
Further, if a formal mental construct is to exist within the martial arts as a useful tool, individuals are encouraged to either develop these mental constructs on their own, OR to adopt an existing construct on their instructor’s word. However, how many of these instructors are really interested in philosophy and big-picture thinking? How many of them can fluently deal with contradictions, exceptions, and design-oriented thinking in a big-picture context?
In my experience, people who can engage in this this activity at a fluent level are not generally found among martial arts instructors. That’s fine in some ways—nobody can be good at everything—but it’s not fair to students when the activity could be developed and taught, given the problems that martial arts are advertised to solve.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time reading and researching martial arts philosophy. While I hoped to find a well-developed world of thought-connected action that connects martial arts concepts from big-picture thought directly down to appropriate forms of little-picture thinking, instead I found a polarized continuum. Vague, metaphorical, and loosely-organized big-picture thinking which exists on one extreme end of that continuum, and over-specific, prescriptive technique-focused practice on the other end.
This creates a huge blind spot for a martial artist. Instead of designing the best solution to a conflict, a martial artist is taught to choose, arrange, and deploy specific physical techniques.
Indeed, most martial arts do not communicate that it is possible to fight and win decisively by starting from a guiding philosophy and developing a fluid and responsive mental construct which informs the selection and deployment of little-picture techniques.
This is, to put it lightly, crazy sauce. It is an arrangement that is unfortunate, risky and likely to undermine the core value of a martial art in the face of most of life’s difficult challenges, fights, conflicts, battles, wars, and so on.
Nowadays, if a choke-hold or a kick, or a possible combination of both, is the answer to a real conflict that’s on your hands, you are likely either dealing with an extreme edge case or forcing your model to fit the problem in front of you. I shouldn’t need to explain why that’s a troubling position.
At the same time, we exist in a litigious, hyper-justice-focused society where physical violence is concerned. Without a justice concept and related mental models to provide a practitioner with a creative fighting capacity, the likelihood of physical technique really solving a conflict is extremely low and getting lower. This may even be more true, the more you win your physical conflicts.
Axis 2: Broad thinking vs. narrow thinking
8. When it is impossible to use cannon I can supply in their stead catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other instruments of admirable efficiency not in general use—I short, as the occasion requires I can supply infinite means of attack and defense.
— Leonardo da Vinci, writing to the Duke of Milan
I also learned that there is very little fluency between broad and narrow thinking in the martial arts. This has also become a critical blind spot.
To give an example, broad thinking anticipates a wide variety of questions, or problems, and looks at the set of possible solutions as virtually never-ending. Not only are there an infinite number of physical approaches to the solution of a conflict, but these infinities can overlap and integrate with other approaches: This includes psychological, social, intellectual, legal, and a variety of other approaches.
A broad thinker keeps an open mind. Broad-minded thinkers face the future with anticipation. They want to learn new things that can help them out.
A good broad-minded thinker knows that learning something new doesn’t have to crowd out the old, reliable things they already know. To the contrary, they can develop a more resilient system or framework with fresh new ideas and insights.
Narrow-minded thinking is typically more focused on things that worked in the past. This approach is valuable in some ways, but it is completely dominant in the martial arts. History, tradition, stories, legends, and memory are revered and vaunted.
Predictably, this can result in technique which is undermined by a lack of development in light of current, developing contexts. Do you want to defeat a narrow-minded martial artist? Start by deploying changing contexts as a weapon, and derive specific techniques and tools from that position. Redefine the conflict, scope of conflict, and perceivable solution set. Did you not read that surprise was a useful weapon? This philosophical approach is thousands of years old, but most lack the tools to conceptualize methods which bring it into reality.
This, in my opinion, is where PJMA shines: Sure, we can integrate known techniques when it makes sense. But we can also learn to confidently design and deploy new techniques, starting from practical, solutions-oriented mental models.
I may not be able to tell you what your specific, conflict-resolving technique is right now, but this fact points at a strength, not a weakness. Since real-life, contextual variations are what provide motivational energy to PJMA design thinking, we’re also able to point out that it’s preposterous for someone to think that they can reliably tell you the specific, little-picture techniques on which you need to place your focus.
The martial arts world beckons a wide variety of people and their motivating problem sets to come and drink at its fountain of experience, but the way individual arts approach these problem sets has become critically narrow-minded. Below I’ve listed some examples of the problems people bring to the martial arts community.
People who show interest in the martial arts may…
- Feel physically threatened
- Want some more structure in their life
- Want to feel more confident
- Want to act more assertively
- Perceive a weakness in their physicality
- Want to have fun and break things
- Want to learn something new
- Want to respect their family tradition in the martial arts
- Want to achieve a rank
I never once saw these varying and even contradicting areas of focus addressed specifically and fluently over time within their own sensible frameworks. This is very unfortunate—and not exactly what you’d call student-focused learning. Students are rather expected to discover aspects of their interests within a broader set of teachings brought forward from the past.
And this fact further raises the possibility that the solution to students’ conflicts and problems may need to be so broad-minded that a practical approach to designing those solutions is either completely unknown or too far outside of the experience level of the average martial arts instructor.
That may be the state of things, but it’s also a completely unnecessary blind spot. It’s also probably harming the martial art that you currently love and enjoy.
These two axes point at a lot of “middle ground” which can be recovered to benefit the martial arts. It’s awkward middle ground to talk about, because people without much experience in transiting that middle ground are going to under-emphasize it, or groan about it, or simply ignore it like it doesn’t exist. And this system of “no thanks” is what creates a new, opportunistic strength for PJMA. Where others flail between polarities, PJMA offers a fluent, structured way to approach conflict and achieve meaningfully superior ends. And it does this while also allowing your favorite martial art to keep its strengths and integrate them into creative solutions.
Whose Fu do You Use? Taking the First Steps toward a Personal Justice Art
Wednesday September 16, 2020
“To obtain enlightenment in martial art means the extinction of everything which obscures the “true knowledge,” the “real life.” At the same time, it implies boundless expansion and, indeed, emphasis should fall not on the cultivation of the particular department which merges into the totality, but rather on the totality that enters and unites that particular department.”
—Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do
In this introductory article, I’ll be discussing the practical and philosophical grounds for a new martial art. It’s different—be prepared to learn about something which may seem strange and novel, even uncomfortable.
I’ll start with some background and then offer the best formal structure I can, given that this particular art is still in its first stages, and heavy development is still underway.
You can also read more about the philosophical underpinnings that helped me identify the need for a new approach to martial arts.
A bit of background and personal history
Like a lot of INTJs, I spent a lot of time in the martial arts when I was younger. I still find that I need to scratch some of those old itches, practicing bits of old kata from time to time, or tilting to the side, stretching out my upper leg and loudly popping my hip joint like some kind of weirdo.
While I was never anything particularly special when it came to martial arts practice, my progress was good enough for my teachers and instructors to urge me to continue pursuing the interest. Unfortunately I found that I usually had to discontinue formal studies in any particular martial art after a year or two, because of work, scheduling changes, or whatever else came up in life. I studied a lot of different martial arts, and had a lot of fun in the process.
I was a bit embarrassed to discover that my favorite martial arts were way more acrobatic than “practical” stuff like physical self-defense. Sure, it was neat to practice various fighting tactics for a while. I enjoyed learning how Judo’s defense philosophy worked differently from Tai Liu, or whatever else I had tried. But I enjoyed practicing high kicks even more, and still do. I’m not exactly a geezer, but if I get to brittle-bones age without being able to pull off a reasonable tornado kick, I think I might really regret that.
The rest of the self-defense content was only interesting for a little while, until it wasn’t. Then it got really old, really fast. I used to wonder—why is that? Am I just an outlier? Why does “defense against a choke” or even regular MMA practice still seem unnecessarily serious, impractical, and even kind of corny sometimes? Surely it’s not a good thing to get choked out, or roundhouse-kicked in the face?
How much is really practical in the martial arts?
This question has already been done to death, so I’ll keep it brief. I was troubled by the practicality factor when it came to the physical martial arts. I wondered—exactly who is studying this stuff for practical reasons, beyond the most basic point? No matter the art—Judo, Karate, eastern weapons, MMA—why do people keep acting as if practicality is so important, when they are so quick to counter their own advice?
To give an example, one of my instructors had been all around the world studying martial arts, and he told us that if stuff got bad we were to turn and run, no question. If we had to use what we were learning, man was that a bad sign! (A.K.A. the 0.00000000001% solution)
Other instructors at different schools told us to stay out of bad neighborhoods and keep a golf club by the bed.
So why weren’t we out running and practicing swinging golf clubs? When some ego-obsessed jerk came by the school to challenge one of the instructors, why didn’t the instructor run away?
Also, no matter how effective you are at your art—when it meets the outside world it seems like there’s no knowing who’s got something better, or what’s going to work. Maybe they just got the initiative—sorry, no martial arts for you. Plus, these encounters can happen so fast that you may have no way of predicting what you’ll do. A few seconds pass, and it’s over.
The Answer to Everything: Guns
I’ve talked to other INTJs who say they carry guns for this reason. Massive power may be needed when you least expect it, so why not carry 700 joules of potential energy on your hip?
Well, as much as I admire a good contingency plan, I don’t wanna carry a gun, sorry. That’s my “nope” point. I was raised by an INTJ gun collector. Back in the day I shot some very interesting guns with my dad, from the Desert Eagle .50 to some pretty radical antiques, still in firing condition, that the ATF didn’t seem to like very much.
Then I went to university in Utah, and guns were everywhere in Utah. Looking at billboards on the freeway, I started to wonder if there was a single day during the year when there wasn’t a giant gun show advertisement directed at Utah commuters.
I left school early one day to go up in the hills with a friend, to shoot his newly-purchased AK-47 and Makarov pistol. As he quickly and quietly rushed his plastic gun cases toward my car, he chuckled a bit and admitted his wife definitely didn’t want them in the house. We drove up to a barren hillside where we aimed at a bunch of old junk—discarded water heaters, rusty old cans.
In between salvos, I remember turning around and looking down at the beautiful city below, full of parks and green back yards. I wondered: Could those people down there hear us up here, trying our best to trigger-bump and mimic automatic weapons fire? Probably. Were we scaring people? Likely.
I didn’t like that feeling at all.
Going back to my INTJ dad, it seemed like the more he thought about and talked about guns, the more he became convinced he’d have to use them. He could invent gun scenarios that felt so real—in his intuition—that you had to wonder if he was even safe to be around sometimes.
It could get really scary to talk about guns with dad, and mom even let slip one day that dad had gone for his gun and nearly shot me, mistaking me for a burglar when I had to make an unexpected return home late at night. Jesus. All that INTJ research he put into those purchases—just the right gun, just the right home defense ammo, just the right technique and stance. I’m sure it would have had its intended effect.
So anyway—I’m happily in the Jim Rockford / MacGyver / Marty Crane category where guns are concerned. I know how to use them, but I’m not interested in carrying.
But I also don’t think that this position means what gun people think it means. I don’t think it means that the bad guys automatically win, for one.
I think a good martial art should be able to transcend even the power of guns, without needing to invent a better gun.
That “Martial” word
8. When it is impossible to use cannon I can supply in their stead catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other instruments of admirable efficiency not in general use—I short, as the occasion requires I can supply infinite means of attack and defense.
— Leonardo da Vinci, writing to the Duke of Milan
What is a martial art? Everyone seems to have a slightly different definition. Do you have one?
- Wikipedia: Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat.
- American Heritage Dictionary: Any of various arts of self-defense, such as aikido, karate, judo, or tae kwon do, usually practiced as sport.
- American Heritage Dictionary, Definition 2: Commonly, any of several fighting styles which contain systematized methods of training for combat, both armed and unarmed; often practiced as a sport, e.g. boxing, karate, judo, Silat, wrestling, or Muay Thai.
- American Heritage Dictionary, Definition 3: Military skills, proficiency in military strategy, prowess in warfare.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Any of several arts of combat and self-defense (such as karate and judo) that are widely practiced as sport.
The fact is, you can drive a metaphorical truck through these definitions, so if you want to work within, or change some aspect of the martial arts, it’s probably best to simply define what it is you’re trying to do, then and do it as best you can. (I don’t believe any single definition of the term will ever make everyone happy, and it still causes a lot of debate within the martial arts community)
The way I see it, if there are health-focused martial arts, and if XMA is totally a martial art, that’s amazing and great, but it also means the door is now open to just about any kind of martial art you want to invent, as long as you can show how it’s effective, and why it’s important. And just to be clear, I have no complaint about health-focused martial arts…hell, they may even be more practically useful than every choke hold in the book.
Plus, we have every reason to be creative and fresh within the martial arts. Specific, technique-focused arts tend to come in and out of fashion and go stale fast. In fact, longer-term, structured and focused creativity has always been something of a blind spot in the martial arts community.
In my opinion, the martial arts community has become over-focused on its own traditional, physical strengths—strengths which typically build on a questionable philosophical framework. And these strengths now lose more of their practical applicability by the day. To the degree that any given modern martial art exists as a superior physical confrontation system, its “yikes, be super careful about using that one in real life” factor also seems to increase.
Today, one can make the argument that your opponent’s attorney might have a more versatile and skillful martial art than you do. We can certainly ignore this thought and go back to practicing our physical technique, but that ignorance does little more than push martial arts deeper into the realm of competitive sports. What happened to our practicality?
What kind of creativity is needed?
Let’s reconnect with personality psychology here, for a bit.
The martial arts community leans very heavily on SP (Sensing-Perceiving) psychology. Speaking personally, I know I had more ISTP instructors than any other type. And going to various tournaments, again and again it seemed like the SP types automatically “won” the psychological ground. There were simply more of them, and they ran things in SP ways, and that was that.
(Incidentally, I’ve met some SJ and NT martial arts instructors. One SJ in question was a very highly-respected Japanese master with a mega-refined sense of discipline and honor. He politely informed my instructors at the time that they needed to get into shape, which still makes me smile.)
While nobody really saw themselves as SPs forcing others to Be Like Them, and I don’t blame anybody for the natural bias that I observed, this situation still rubbed me the wrong way. It was its own type of injustice. Nobody seemed to care about the “broader system” or “broader practical effect” of martial arts compared to what the practitioners were advertising. Very little care was given to the big picture implications and the possible reasons behind the way deeply physical martial arts increasingly met with disdain in culturally-refined circles.
From my perspective, there were a lot of wrongs to right, in order to bring some sense of moderated—yet powerful—social effect, big-picture respectability, and quiet nobility back to the martial arts.
Speaking in terms of temporality, the fighting mentality was mostly something like this:
- Mental and physical training before a fight
- Just before the physical fight
- The physical fight
- The end.
Huh. That’s not very optimal. Just looking at the timeline, my NT-intuition spidey sense tells me something’s weird:
- Why are you only prepping for a physical confrontation? Doesn’t that play into the physicality food chain effect?
- Why does the fight end with the cessation of physicality? What if you lost that part? Is it not possible to resume and win by other means? And why doesn’t there seem to be any distinction between a battle and a war, for example—metaphorically speaking?
Not that anybody ever talked about this. You ever bring up this kind of NT stuff with your SP martial arts instructor? I didn’t make that mistake too many times.
“Huh, well maybe that’s important, NT-kun. But you see, this is getting into woo-woo theory stuff! Does anybody care about that? You could be thinking about this stuff, out there in lala land, walking down the street, and then you get your ass handed to you by a couple of thugs!”
I mean…there’s always a chance of thugs handing me my ass when I’m distracted, I guess.
But theory and intuition and creativity are also my core gifts, for which I get natural bonuses on my dice rolls. So why not use the strengths as strengths?
Born This Way
So, where martial arts-thinking is concerned, I’ve decided that, much like those SP’s, I’m going to work from 1) my strengths and 2) my values, some of which I’ve covered above.
I’m interested in martial thinking, in some ways. And I’m interested in those outcomes, particularly the concept of justice.
I’m probably not going to stop thinking about this, and the world needs Bat-people of all kinds.
Welcome to my dojo, ramshackle as it may appear at this point in time.
Here we go.
Introduction to the Personal Justice Martial Art (PJMA)
PJMA is an art which leverages a formal, refined, and skilled pursuit of personal justice against the problems of the world, starting with problems in your world.
PJMA emphasizes educated discipline in the controlled pursuit of justice, as opposed to reckless action. PJMA is meant to help individuals take control of their life and discover new ways to right wrongs, offering them an arsenal of methods for approaching whatever issues come their way.
(The name is admittedly pretty generic, but so are bananas, and people love their bananas.)
Principles of Personal Justice
First, PJMA works from the inside out. PJMA starts with you and your situation:
- Are you satisfied with the outcome and equity? Example: Did you just get your ass handed to you, and did that feel unfair?
- How do you feel about what’s going on?
- Who do you perceive has been wronged?
- Where do you see this process starting and ending?
After those immediate inner concerns, PJMA integrates immediate outside concerns:
- What is the other party’s position?
- Were there any witnesses?
- What other information is relevant?
- How would I identify others who can help me explore this?
The process then moves outward with even greater effect toward the end goal of a high-quality resolution.
Thought Exercise: Imagine an opponent who is a tough, extremely physical fighter who is coming for you. Can your imagined opponent punch you over the phone? Can they respond to you directly and in a threatening manner, when you communicate with them through their respected and humble grandparent? What happens to their fighting motivation when you tell them you have mutual friends who have a stake in the matter? How will the stakes change when you invite this opponent, quite unexpectedly, to write a letter of apology to their children? Or, how will their energy change when you show them that fighting you means fighting untold numbers of unseen, energized, and upset people they’ve never met before?
Now imagine a thousand other solutions, each tailored not to this imagined foe and improbable scenario, but to a specific, defined threat that actually exists in real life. And recall that in most cases, you don’t really have to think on your feet and can use time as a weapon. This realm, in which theoretical possibilities are deployed to serve probabilities which are anchored in specific, real context, is the realm of PJMA.
Finally, imagine that you throw a well-timed and forceful punch at your opponent! This, too, is a possibility within the realm of PJMA. PJMA transcends the dichotomous “fists or feet” mode of thinking, especially when a method promises good results toward equity and conflict resolution.
Second, PJMA envelops or transcends a typical combative martial arts timeline.
A PJMA process can start, and be won, before a fight ever happens.
A PJMA process can start, and be won, after a physical fight is lost. (I am very proud of this particular leverage point, hoping it can change the way we think about, and too often rush into, conflict)
A PJMA process holds the question of “winning” up to refined scrutiny. It is probably not necessary to kill, destroy, hurt, shame, embarrass, harass, or belittle someone to “win”.
Third, and finally, PJMA takes ethics and equity seriously.
For example, a basic goal of PJMA is to differentiate common revenge from the pursuit of Personal Justice:
- PJMA processes start with a simple inquiry. An inquiry is like an investigation. This simple act helps assure your basic psychological processes that action is being taken and progress is being made. Even this result is often a quick win, no matter where the inquiry ends.
- PJMA processes are anchored by objectivity as quickly as possible. We look into things from a variety of viewpoints, and we direct our psychological energy outward to balance the stress and pressure we feel inside. This act alone is a relief. It can also bring immense pressure to bear on those who may deserve to feel such pressure.
- PJMA processes leverage timelines to bring creative solutions into being. By measuring and precisely controlling our use of time, we create an ally out of probability. The dice start to roll in our favor more often.
- PJMA processes are aware of, and integrate, human emotion. We immediately work to integrate emotional reactions so that they don’t undermine our important heroic tasks down the line.
- PJMA processes reward patience and even idealism. Our little victories inform a broader, deeper consciousness of societal victory. If you are happier and more satisfied with your solutions to life’s problems, your neighborhood and community will also feel safer. Practical, problem-facing traction can help you climb a step higher on Maslow’s pyramid or even just regain a bit confidence you recently lost.
- PJMA processes can integrate with broader, non-personal justice systems, for example a state’s justice system. PJMA can help you know what to expect when you work with others who may want to help you, but who are also working within practical limits. You may even be able to work within those limits and use them in your own defensive or offensive positions.
A Short Manifesto for PJMA
PJMA is the Art of Personal Justice.
- I look into things. I examine them from within and from without. I gather opinions, information, and ideas.
- My aim is the pursuit and capture of Just Outcomes and Equity. You may be surprised by my persistence.
- I don’t take myself too seriously, but I look out for myself and I hold others accountable.
- Before your art gets warmed up, mine may have already won.
- When your art ends, mine may only be getting started.
- My art is flexible. I can use it in parallel with other systems.
- Exceptional physicality is optional. Some of the best PJMA work I do may be done from a chair.
- (PJMA is designed to be Batcave-compatible)
- (PJMA also reads like PAJAMA and so of course it’s also Pajamas-compatible. Always make yourself comfortable while you reflect on emotional things.)
- Like my pajamas? Have a banana.
- The logo is a banana next to the letters PJMA.
- Having a banana is a cue—chill, take care of yourself, and think about things for a bit. Did you start this war while feeling like a monkey? Finish it by thinking like a human.
Questions for Me
- What is this? It’s a martial art like Karate or Judo, but less physical, more philosophical, and more idealistic (it’s wide open to exploring circumstances and some surprisingly positive outcomes are possible, which isn’t traditionally within the scope of restricted physical combat arts). It’s a mental practice in large part. For this reason it can be surprisingly effective: It gives you more time to operate behind the scenes and build leverage, and your opponent may not even see you coming. A very sensory opponent would be deprived of their senses. (PJMA may also incorporate a more physical component in the future, though so far it’s looking a bit different from what you may expect)
- Is it dangerous? If I practice this, would I regret it? I don’t think it’s any more dangerous to the practitioner than any other art. It will also offer you the ability to choose the level of danger, which is where I think a lot of martial arts completely miss the mark.
- Is this some fantasy thing? Nope, it’s very real and serious. But a physical fighter may not feel comfortable with it at all, which is kind of amusing, but also kind of unfortunate for them. You are already surrounded and enveloped and influenced by justice systems every day. This one will be superior to many others by being intentionally built and modeled for best effect.
- So are there “moves?” What about “kata”? Yes, we will use those, but mostly as metaphor. And metaphor is awesome.
- Og no understand non-physical parts. Og feel upset. It’s OK. This is admittedly better for humans than for cave people.
- Are there ranks? Not yet. I’ve studied martial arts with and without ranks. I don’t know that they’re really necessary.
- What if somebody just shoots you? Shouldn’t you just carry a gun? Come on.
- Why is this called a martial art, when it’s not about serious physical combat? That’s the old way of thinking, but it’s no longer logical. Typical martial arts combat is constrained in its seriousness, as I’ll go into below. And PJMA is about serious combat, whenever combat is appropriate within in the PJMA framework. Think about this: If you want your combat to be serious and bring about serious effects, it has to be engaged as part of a refined justice framework. Otherwise you are risking your life by flinging your arms and legs around and choking people out, and you must expect investigation and intervention on the part of third-party formal justice systems like your state’s criminal justice system. To expect people to nod and let you off because you are a good fighter, or because everyone agrees with your subjective moral judgment system, is naive. This is why other martial arts, the traditional physical and combat martial arts, are always reigned in, the more serious they become. The more serious and demonstrative you make your physical martial art, the more you will need to create a system of rules concerning weight classes, equipment, and so on. This is because we are no longer cave people, we believe that human life has intrinsic value, we built a legal system to protect human life above and beyond what any martial art can do, and if you act to threaten human life, you will most likely get your ass handed to you in court or even just in legal expenses, or in a million other different, bureaucratic, culturally-refined ways. So instead of a “combat martial art,” now you have a game, or a sport, on your hands. This is automatically a liability, a huge dead-end if you need to make serious, real-life progress against a foe that seriously threatens you, in practical, real life terms. Hence the need for a new martial art.
- So my existing mental framework of just beating people up might still be OK in some ways? You’re thinking too small here. If you’re like most martial artists, you’re thinking, “me versus one other guy,” or “me versus maybe a few guys.” It’s too limited and you end up pursuing an edge case. It could be that you need to raise an army. PJMA is not going to rule that out, whether it’s an army of concerned neighbors or a literal team of guerrillas. PJMA is meant to give you logical, philosophical, and moral frameworks that will help you identify what you need in order to resolve the situation, and help you figure out how to get it while operating in a real-life environment with rules, laws, and human rights. With PJMA you can fight systemic corruption or you can fight a parking ticket, and it will be there to help you you through every shaky encounter along the way. What other martial art makes so bold and realistic an effort? Believe me, despite the pornographically-advantageous physicality that you see in the movies (which is best consumed as metaphor, IMO), you are not going to physically choke your way out of a corrupt system, and you are not going to shoot your way out of an unfair parking ticket without creating serious trouble for yourself.
- So this is a lot more serious than I was thinking? Can I share something personal with you? PJMA was originally designed to help me not destroy another guy’s entire life. This person had hurt me—it was nobody close, nobody that I had any reason to care for. But it stung badly, and I knew they were bothering and probably even hurting other people as well. I had my finger on the trigger (metaphorically) and I had built up a full profile and a suite of assets, tools, and strategies, all specifically targeted at this one person. That’s when I realized—I don’t want to operate like this. I simply can’t live my life like that. But at the same time, I wondered—rather than just avoiding, rather than disengaging in defeat, and rather than going nuclear, what are my options? How do I pursue my justice, and push back, even if just a little bit? Where’s the middle ground? And what would a really good resolution look like? I think a lot of INTJs can intuitively understand the need for that position. Once the emotions kick in with that amount of seriousness, you need a framework or things could get way too serious, way too fast. In this situation, I realized that my years of martial arts experiences offered me basically zero tools with any practical use. And out of this situation, PJMA was born.
- Your new idea makes me feel a bit grumpy and critical. I mean, I get it. We’re INTJs. Think about it: Our inferior Se and tertiary Fi can cause us to think that we, each of us, are the best when it comes to appraisals and critiques of raw physical efficacy, and a lot of us have already identified the “best” physical way to do that, be it BJJ or something else. So yeah, be the critic if it suits you, but yeah, also maybe allow yourself to be taken by your psychological blind spot here and thrown around a bit. Physicality and physical combat technique is not everything—not even close. Please give these concepts some time, see how they feel after some study and thought. The INTJ psychology is a blessing, but it can also be a curse where new, outside ideas are concerned. And keep in mind that this new system is already very integrative by design, so nothing is really taken away from the world in which you currently operate, except maybe outdated assumptions that I think you will understand are weak and troubling in the first place.
Questions for You, The Reader
So, that’s the very basic introduction. I have much more to share, and I will keep tooling away at it.
In the meantime, let me ask you:
- What do you like or dislike about this new martial art?
- What questions does it raise when you think about your own past experiences?
- What other questions or ideas does it bring to mind, thinking forward into your future?
- Does it bring to mind any black-and-white scenarios which seem troubling?
- What, if anything, does your intution tell you is terribly wrong with this approach?
I find it’s good to get those questions out there as early as possible.
I’ll also add that, to an INTJ, a lot of this material may seem natural, even obvious. You may have been thinking about this since you were a child. That’s how we know we’re using our natural gifts. To others, I guarantee you it will not feel this way. And that is also a pretty good leverage point.
Well—I’ll develop this more as I have time, but for now, do get in touch if you’re interested.
Thanks to Wikimedia user Telrúnya for the helpful banana starter-image. Now, exactly why did I create a banana-based logo at 11 p.m.? But somehow it works.
Five is Right Out! Three Recent Reflections
Tuesday September 15, 2020
Hey everybody! Hope you’re all doing well…
I meant to write this last week, but I had been away for a while and couldn’t get in the right state of mind to blog, but finally today came, my internet connection has been flaky and I missed an important appointment, so now the whole day feels like it’s in limbo and I feel like a complete failure of a J-personality. So, with this new change-energy in the air…
Reflection #1: Emotions
These are more fun lately. I’ve had TONS of fun with my emotional side.
For example, just zoning out while listening to favorite music, wondering about things that sound more like lines out of some random middle schooler’s diary:
- Am I destined to be a loser?
- Where is it all going?
- I hate this.
- I feel like just being a rebel.
The nice thing is, I process this stuff, think and feel and journal through it, and things seem to go better than if I hadn’t.
(Why didn’t I do this as a middle-schooler? I don’t believe I could have handled it.)
(Also, I don’t believe my parents could have handled it. lol)
This feels like TONS of fun because at some point, you actually give into the “I hate this” where it makes sense, and you change things, and you do things you like better, and that is the tons of fun part.
Reflection #2: Stonks
In other emotional news: I’ve been investing, and trading, during the recent market up-down-up-downs. Really, I’ve been “actively investing” for the last five years, and trading more recently.
Swing trading is probably the best-fit term for what I’m up to. I find it’s a good pace for me. I’ve done a tiny bit of day trading, but after about 45 minutes of that, I feel like I need to take a whole day off. (Really, it’s very hard to disengage the emotion and deeply intuitive character of the mental processes that are related here)
The way this started was, I got talking with my own coach, he sent me some resources, I joined AAII, bought O’Neil, hit the gym, and got a tutorial on ThinkorSwim from a nice person at TD Ameritrade.
Since that time, I’ve started my own system, added things, subtracted things, and toiled over yet-undecided things. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s been fun, challenging, and most surprisingly—incredibly feely. The market isn’t a finance-wise computer nerd. The market is basically a bunch of finance-wise computer nerds trying to babysit a giant frickin’ dragon. You can look at it as this really dramatic INTJ-ESFP dichotomy. Hey, reminds me of growin’ up with INTJ dad and ESFP mom!
I’ve been trying to take advantage of whatever opportunity is to be found out there, keep my chin up, and build out my own trading framework.
It’s kind of like building a suit of armor, a sword, a shield, but all you have at first is balsa wood. Well good—that makes you light. So next you learn to find whatever side of the cave the dragon is protecting, and you run in and pick up the money that’s laying around there. And the dragon keeps shifting around, so this entire time you’re hoping that the dragon doesn’t turn around, or turn on you while you’re running in and out trying to move your money around.
Meanwhile you start to think—“maybe I’d be able to run faster without any armor? After all, it’s just balsa wood…heck, maybe I should just go in naked,” And crazy thoughts like that.
So my framework is still changing/mutating, because, just as ever, I’m absolutely capable of advising myself to do one thing, and then waking up the next day and doing the exact opposite. Anyway, once it matures a bit I’ll probably share it here.
Five quick micro lessons:
- INTJs can be really creative bears. Prophets of doom. This tends to be the mean toward which I regress, sometimes. I don’t like being there. I don’t mind the perspective, but I’m just too used to it now. It’s become more of an extreme, less of a gift. (It reminds me of the reason Jung didn’t like the concept of personality type—you’re basically taking all the risks of dichotomizing when integration is generally the wiser choice.)
- Some of my INTJ friends in finance can trot out a lot of the bear wisdom, that little knob you can turn to produce whatever sentiment absolutely destroys investor confidence. The one about trying to beat the market, or beating the S&P, or basically whatever would distract one from the proven results from long-holding in an index fund, or a diversity of indices, or whatever mega-contingency seems to meet with their approval.
- These guys are worth listening to if you’re like a super-risk-taker. You know? Other people may start to wonder when they’ll see some serious gains.
- INTJs can be so good at avoiding risk that we miss out on opportunities. I’ve mentioned this before…
- Like other INTJs, I find that I can inflate my opportunistic gains, more of a simulacrum of a high-risk player. Oooh, you made a million in this dramatic day of trading? No? Oh…a measly fifty bucks…yes, but the lessons are still valid…it all still “scales”…mm hmm…
- But it does scale, is the point—and at some time in the future it may just do that.
- The emotions definitely scale, and it’s hard not to exaggerate when you’re just rocked by the drama of some process like this, especially if it’s new to you.
- Being a contrarian can cause one to miss the “duh” moves that the bell-curve market already knows are going to be awesome. It’s like going to the grocery store and buying “Don’s Mega-healthy Energy Bars” instead of Pop Tarts. You see everyone else buying Pop Tarts and you think they’re dumb sheep, but in fact they’re rational (in Jung’s definition—they follow the bell curve), and you end up holding a disgusting bag of some random foodstuff, because you’re irrational (you are more like an outlier-perceiver).
- Every once in a while you make an awesome discovery because you’re so special, but that doesn’t mean Pop Tarts aren’t amazing, or that nobody will buy Pop Tarts.
- This seems to apply well to INTJs who are trading—you may have to stop hating on things that do indeed make a certain type of bell-curve sense.
- Can’t remember this lesson
- Oh, and Cryptocurrency SUCKS.
(Phew, sorry about that last point, I’m still emotional after losing like $10 in wild speculation on ETH-USD or something. Which doesn’t sound bad, but I won’t tell you about the dramatic intra-day trading and chart-summoning it took to recover that last chunk so I wouldn’t have lost $100)
Overall, these activities, during the recent crazy market events, remind me of finding myself at a water park during a thunderstorm. Very quickly, the park emptied. But then there were the rest of us.
We looked at each other. We laughed. There were areas where we knew we couldn’t go. But the rest of the park was totally workable. And empty! Nice!!! Also, we were pretty sure that the lightning won’t strike us. Wouldn’t that be random! Haha.
That’s the upside-feeling.
The downside feeling is more like…hmm. Maybe it’s like when you have been waiting for your parent to pick you up after school. First, you’re just one of many kids standing out in front of the school, waiting. Then all the other kids’ parents come and get them, and it’s just you.
And then the school office closes, and the office employees ask if you’re OK, and you’re fine, and so they go home. Then a maintenance guy shows up and locks all the gates. Then a storm starts brewing, and then it’s raining.
You get to the point where you think, “what if I just sat here forever—what if my whole family died?”
Finally, mom shows up, almost four hours late. She drives you home at uncomfortably-high speeds, while you try to process the late inner-vision of family-death.
And that’s fine—you can deal with that occasionally, even though it’s scary and different. At home you’ve got video games and good books.
Then you realize it’s only Monday, and you’ll be “picked up” like this for the rest of the week, each day a bit more awkward than the last, with knowing chuckles from office staff, increasing congeniality from the direction of the maintenance guy, or whatever other awkward things may come.
Also, meanwhile, you are going to miss out on almost 20 hours of fun stuff you could be doing instead of standing there.
I think that’s how some of the worst days feel. Like, “ah, see? It’s my destiny, to meet with ruin.”
I saw a post on Facebook the other day, in one of the trading groups there. A guy posted something like,
“Hey everybody. Do you know of anyone who specializes in counseling traders, like with the emotional effect it all has? Just want to work on ways to deal with all the ups and downs.”
Whoa. Major props to that dude. But I feel like I get at least part of what he’s going through. He’s not a failure, it’s just that this is how it works. You WILL have to deal with this aspect, depending on the psychological distance between you and this wild dragon of a market. If you can find a way to work with it (tip: my own framework does go into emotionality), all the better for you.
After all, that Facebook poster is not asking, “how do I stop this thing and get off,” but rather, “how do I stay on this thing and get help with this difficult aspect over here.” Probably a good move and I hope he figures it out.
Reflection #3: Some media I’ve enjoyed lately
Witchboard (Horror Film, 1986)
I thought this was a surprisingly well-crafted horror film. It was interesting to watch, with reasonably engaging character development, some nice twists, solid locations, a good sense of humor, and a sympathetic main character. This one get’s my chef’s kiss award for old horror movies. Hell, I think I’m going to watch it again!
Torchlight II (RPG Dungeon Crawl Video Game, 2012)
I found myself suddenly sucked into this one, realizing my kids’ characters were level 14 and dad’s was level 3. Embarrassing! But things were also getting difficult for them, and I wanted to gain enough experience that I could teach them some keyboard shortcuts and simple strategies so they could keep playing without losing hope.
Well, I ended up getting really sucked in for a bit. I emerged at level 21, which is probably not amazing by a long shot, but the important part was that I knew a lot of new keyboard shortcuts and strategies to share with the kids.
The grind has been really enjoyable though. I love my little dog Funnybone, my shiny gold suit of armor, and my huge, barely-luggable cannon. It’s a great game.
Strange Tales of the Century (Book, 2013)
Written by Jess Nevins and published by Evil Hat Productions, this book is a terrific source of inspiration if you’re interested in archetypes, fictional characters and world-building, and especially the pulp era or the golden age of science fiction.
The book includes a bunch of different curiosity-piquing archetypes, from “Brain in a Jar” to “Occult Detective.” It also offers historical perspectives, for example the differences between the character’s world during the peak of the 1930s and the end of the pulp era, beginning in the 1950s.
Sega Genesis Games
I’ve also been playing some Sega Genesis / Master System games, among which I’ve enjoyed:
- Mega Turrican (Action platformer)
- Vapor Trail (Vertical shooter)
- (A tiny but intriguing bit of) Aerobiz…hmmm…business, airplanes, I’m liking this one.
I always wanted to own a Sega Genesis and Afterburner II when I was a wee lad, so imagine my horror at discovering this past weekend that Afterburner II was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. Ah well. The archetype still functions, so at least my metaphorical F-14 remains operational…
That’s all for now guys! Have a great day & take care —Marc