Sticky Hands 🖐🖐 and Reciprocation

Good partnerships thrive when the foundation is built on reciprocity. There’s a balanced give and take dynamic and mutual respect. At first glance that may sound selfish, because it’s not all “give give give”, but it’s not. You are at your best self when there’s a balance of give and take. If you are constantly giving and not receiving, then you’ll burn out and be filled with resentment. That’s a toxic and unhealthy place to be. Advocate for yourself, and balance the relationship.

A training exercise Kung Fu called Sticky Hands is an useful way to illustrate the importance of reciprocation. It teaches students to listen to their sparring partner, move with the flow of energy and then redirect it back to the source.

Try it: See yourself standing opposite your sparring partner. Both of you have your hands stretched out like stop signs touching each other’s palms. Your shoulders are relaxed with feet planted firmly on the ground. When you are balanced and “grounded” then even a hard shove won’t knock you off your feet. You may take a step back and re-balance, but you won’t fall over.

Now ask you sparring partner to start applying pressure. When you feel the pressure you either have to move out of the way or you have to respond. If you want to be in relationship with your partner then you have to stay on your feet and respond. So feel the pressure and follow it to understand the action and direction of power. Understanding the pressure will dictate your response. Once you’ve got a feel for the intensity and direction of the force then it’s time to respond. In a balanced way, maintain contact and redirect and manipulate it back to the source. Remember to maintain contact with your sparring partner. If you lose contact, or try to overpower your partner then the game is over.

Apply the same approach to conversations and day to day interactions. Stay mentally connected to the person you are speaking to. Be grounded and balanced. If you feel the pressure being applied then pause, feel for the direction and slowly redirect it back. Resist the urge to break contact or use brute force. It takes patience but it’s a worth it.


It just is 

…”I had a discussion with a great master in Japan… and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, ‘That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation’.”

– Alan Watts

The crazies and quiet ones

In every big city I've lived in, I’ve come across people who talk to themselves. I’ll be sitting on a bus and hear someone start a loud conversation and my first thought is that it’s a loud obnoxious phone call, or maybe it’s two friends having a lively conversation – but after a quick glance I realize that it’s just one person having have a solo conversation. I’ve seen this on the city streets as well, someone will walk past me muttering to themselves or start shouting at unseen people. Their eyes are glazed over and it’s like they are on a different planet. They are lost within themselves and have disconnected from everyone around them.

The only difference between the talker and everyone else sitting quietly on the bus trying to ignore the “crazy” guy is that the quiet people's dialogue is INTERNAL vs EXTERNAL. Everyone out there has a similar chatterbox going on inside their head. Conversations like “I have to reply to that email today”, “I thought that was rude!”, “I shouldn’t have lost my temper this morning (sigh)” “I love her”, “I’m hungry”, “I should’ve answered that question differently”,  “Why didn’t he text back”, “I hope the test results come back okay,” “When is the package arriving?”, “I need to workout tonight”, "I feel good", "I feel shit" etc.

Imagine if everyone’s INTERNAL dialogue was EXTERNAL. It would be a noisy bus ride. If that’s the only difference between the crazy / angry guy on the bus then who is really crazy?

The mind is a playful monkey. From time to time you have to catch yourself from being sucked into an internal dialogue with yourself. Calm the monkey with a few deep breaths, get out of your head and get into the moment.

Crazy talk

“But we’re never gonna survive, unless
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless
We are a little crazy”


“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.