I was once sitting on the edge of the mats, with some other spectators, watching some contests. It was not a big affair, and the little audience was mostly former students of the universities competing. I was there because I practised every day at one of them, and wanted to see how the team got on. We were in ordinary clothes, but without shoes.
One of the competitors tried to save himself from a throw by putting his arm out on to the mats as he went over. Of course, it is difficult to free an arm in time to do this, but in any case it is dangerous, and all judo men are warned not to do it. It can lead to a dislocation of the elbow joint. Still, in the rush of the contest, such warnings are often disregarded. In the present case, there was indeed an elbow dislocation. The lower arm stuck out at an unnatural angle.
The referee at once stopped the fight, but before he could do anything else, a middle-aged man shot out from the audience and sat beside the injured man, facing him. Very quickly he put one foot on the armpit, and the other on the side of the neck, and pulled the injured arm out straight. Then he lifted him to his feet, put his arm round his shoulders, and went out with him. I saw the boy’s face as they went past; he did not seem in great pain, but more bewildered.
I made some inquiries afterwards, and learnt that the rescuer was a surgeon, and a fourth Dan judo man. My informant told me that experience showed that if an injury like that could be put right in a matter of a few seconds, there was very little inflammation afterwards, and healing was very rapid. If it could be treated within two hours, it could still be relatively quick. But after two hours, it might take a long time, and there could be permanent damage.
The same principle can be applied to the serious injuries of life.
Suppose we have a big disappointment; a message comes that something we had hoped for, and relied on getting, will not come to us after all. Suppose that someone we have helped now suddenly turns against us. These can be big shocks to our whole life. But as a matter of fact, they can be thrown aside fairly easily in the first few seconds.
The Chinese phrase is: ‘Throw away the hundred troubles with one laugh.’
With that laugh, instandy, in the first few seconds, turn the attention vigorously to something that needs doing. Sweeping the garden, bringing order into a neglected pile of papers, clearing a cupboard, writing down proposals for the meeting. As soon as possible, immerse yourself in some longer constructive activity. If it cannot be done immediately, then within the two hours. If it has been practised, meditation on the navel-point of power will give independence. The anger or bitterness is felt only a little.
But if these things are not done, there is a rush of thoughts: ‘How can people behave like this? I have lost my faith in human nature. Why do these things happen to me?’ and so on and so on.
They can take a long time to heal, and there may be permanent damage which never heals.