theMALC

Formula For Change

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Jun 30th, 2011

Recently while teaching a series of classes at Chris and Pattie Crews’ Missoula Kenpo Karate, I decided to end the final lesson by introducing Gleicher’s Formula for Change. I had originally studied Beckhard and Harris’ research on this model for organizational change years ago. I prefer the way Kathie Dannemiller has restructured this idea and, using this representation, I saw it as a useful structure for personal development (change), as well.

Any martial artist who wants to improve their art must be willing to change. The changes may be technical involving new learning or improving fitness(es), or may take a more personal track.

“A true martial artist is not one who fears change, but one who causes it to happen.” Ed Parker

The formula is D x V x F x CL > R. Here is a breakdown of the formula:

D is for dissatisfaction. One must be frustrated with things as they are. “My side kick needs to be higher.” “I need to learn this form for my next belt rank.” These, or similar statements, represent the artist’s displeasure with the current situation. Martha Graham, the famous dancer-choreographer, may have expressed it best: “No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There’s only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.” If the reader needs martial arts models of “Divine Dissatisfaction”, I would suggest studying the lives of Gichin Funakoshi, Mas Oyama, Morihei Ueshiba, Wally Jay, and of course, Ed Parker.

V is for vision; a vision of what is possible. Looking to icons like the artists mentioned above lets us know that a new vision of ourselves is always possible. Many martial artists have studied methods of meditation, self-suggestion, or creative visualization to enhance their study of the art. Consider using this training to hold on to the new vision of yourself. It’s important to have a firm mental image of the changes you want to accomplish to continue to move toward your new direction. Then, write down your goals and read them often.

F is for the first steps to make your vision a reality. For me, the F is for frustration --- the level of frustration that pushes you to get yourself off the couch, turn off the TV and get to training. Perhaps, you don’t even have to turn off the TV. Robert Maurer, PhD states in his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life-The Kaizen Way (2004), that the part of our brains called the “amygdala” sets off alarm bells whenever we make a departure from our usual safe routines. This triggering of the fear response to something new was an important survival mechanism when that new path might lead us to a face to face encounter with a saber toothed tiger! Maurer recommends very small steps to prevent your amygdala from waking up and triggering the fear response. In his book, he worked with a client who he had march in place in front of the TV for one minute a day. Eventually, she marched for three minute commercial breaks, and then, for whole shows. Soon these small changes had grown into the solid habit of running one mile every day. Using this gradual process led her to her fitness goal. Think in terms of “first steps”, or base hits versus trying for a home run! Often, we embark on a new training regime with too much intensity. We jump right in, only to injure ourselves or burn out our aspiration to change. Then, we get quickly get back to our comfy spot on the couch, that state of comfortable equilibrium.

CL is for Creative Leadership. You may have a coach or training partners that can help motivate you, but finally, it’s up to you to lead yourself to change! If you are dissatisfied with things as they are, if you can hold on to a vision of what you want, generate the energy to move in that direction; you will prevail over R.

R is our resistance to change. Why do people resist change? That topic will require another article, but let me mention a few reasons. Our desire to change, driven by our dissatisfaction, vision, and frustration must be able to triumph over our resistance to change. If they aren’t potent enough, change will not happen. Questions arise; “Why change? What do I risk by not changing? I’m too tired. Do I have the energy it will take to change?” We all resist change. Still change comes to us: our clothes wear out and need replacing, our technology upgrades, we grow older.


Filed under Instructors and Teaching

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

Are you a martial artist and have advice or experiences you want to share? If so, contact our editorial team about becoming an author. Be part of our community, contribute an article.