Smash the Cell Phone

Smash the Cell Phone

In the film "Ramen Girl" (which I highly recommend) a young American woman finds herself in Tokyo looking for purpose in her life. After dining in a ramen restaurant; ramen is a special Japanese dish, broth, noodles, meat, vegetables put together in a very special way, she decides that she wants to make people happy by cooking ramen. She approaches the chef and asks to be a student.

In typical Japanese fashion the first part of her training has nothing to do with actual cooking. She must wash the dishes, scrub the toilets and take out the trash. Just like traditional karate training the first step in learning is the crushing of ego and proving your dedication. Similarly in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) the first step is to tear you down in order to rebuild you, the right way. Of course the trainee has difficulty understanding the process. Not fully trusting the instructor the student eventually lashes out and says, "But you are not teaching me what I came to learn!"

The Japanese have a concept that is difficult for Westerners to comprehend, "Acceptance". Trust your teacher totally and accept whatever terms and conditions are being offered. This is not yet the time for questions.

In the film, the student, Abby San, is frustrated and lashes out at her instructor, the head chef. She storms out of the restaurant. Next morning she humbly returns and says, in Japanese, "I want to be your student."

During the entire training period leading up to this point we see Abby constantly on her cell phone. At every free moment she is trying to make up with her boyfriend or complaining to someone about something. That morning, when she humbly returned to the restaurant, the master chef puts out his hand. He wants her cell phone. He puts it on the floor, she covers her face not to look, and he smashes it with his wooden shoe.

Now she is ready to train.

What just happened? Why was this necessary? Couldn't she just turn off her cell phone?

As long as her mind was on the cell phone, and all the people she could reach with it, she was not totally here in the moment. She was not, and could not be totally focused on this experience. Perhaps it is a Zen thing, no 'multi tasking', no being two places at once. No, you want to train, you shut off the outside world, you must be totally here, totally involved with what you are learning.

The same principle applies to combat training and Krav Maga training. Are you here to train? If so shut off the outside world, smash your figurative cell phone, be here in body, spirit and soul. This is the only way to learn.