When most people think about “kung fu” they immediately think about Chinese martial arts. I have dedicated a large portion of the last 10 years of my life to the study of Chinese martial arts with one of the world’s last true masters. There are many Chinese martial arts styles which fall under the heading of kung fu: Tai Chi, Wudang, Wing Chun, Choy Li Fut, Shoalin, Wushu, amongst many others. But, you might be surprised to know that “kung fu” actually translates as simply “hard work”. Calligraphists, artists, athletes, chefs, and school children in China are all said to practice kung fu (hard work) because what they do takes concentration and extreme effort to get good at it. In fact, there are tea ceremonies (much like those performed in Japan) which are considered some of the highest forms of kung fu because they take a lifetime to perfect.
So, what does any of this have to do with SOI and what we do with it? Well, this gets to the very root of what SOI is! SOI is both an assessment and a protocol of proven exercises (both with the body and the brain) to improve learning abilities. In my opinion, there is much kung fu involved in both stages of this process and on both sides of the coin (the SOI practitioner and the client).
As we all know, there is a certain art to learning to give the SOI assessment, both in understanding what each sub test is asking of the client, and what you can and cannot say during the test. But, the client is the one really performing kung fu! Taking the SOI assessment is hard work as is evidenced by: rubbing of the eyes, rubbing the temples, running hands through hair, shaking of heads, breaking of pencil lead, etc. Many people are truly exhausted after taking the SOI assessment. In fact, a few adults have reported to me that, after taking the SOI assessment, they truly slept like a baby.
Then, as SOI practitioners, we step in and score the assessment. Again, there is an art here that takes much hard work to be proficient with it, especially when scoring the three divergent (creativity) subtests. This stage always makes me think of the story in Chinese martial arts lore in which a new student comes from another school to the Master of a rival school and wants to learn from him. The Master asks the student to perform what he knows from his other learnings, explaining that from this demonstration, he will know at what level he will need to start the student.
How could demonstration of a completely different art show the Master how much the student knows about what he has not yet learned? We all know the truth of this as we score and analyze the SOI assessment. We never ask the client how much they know or how school is or was for them, but we find that out pretty quickly. We never ask them if they have vision, auditory, or sensory-motor issues, but we find that out too! In fact, through our kung fu of knowing the SOI assessment inside and out, we find out all sorts of things about people and their abilities.
Then, a whole new level of SOI kung fu is introduced as we go over the results with the clients (and their parents if they are children). The art here is often knowing how to deliver tough news in a positive way. Sometimes, the art lies in knowing how to deliver very good news to someone who isn’t ready to believe it about themselves. There are many different scenarios we must prepare for and many we can’t prepare for, but we have to be able to roll with. The skills necessary to be a good analyst and communicator are crucial and require much fine-tuning and kung fu. There are definite kung fu masters when it comes to SOI assessment analysis and the delivery of results. And they are like any other kung fu master in this way: you know them as soon as you see their skill.
Finally, we come to the stage when the client must demonstrate how much kung fu they are willing to put into the process. It is one thing to say you would like to know martial arts. It is entirely another thing to truly know them. Building learning abilities is not an easy process, either. It takes diligence, consistency, patience, and motivation to show up to an IPP lab day after day and go through physical and workbook exercises which are meant to challenge you. There is often frustration expressed (usually in the form of the question “Why the heck am I doing this?!?” ) because of the desire to see immediate results. But this program is not a quick-fix. This program is a real fix. That is exactly what kung fu is: being willing to go through a process to get something real and long-lasting. I have great admiration for anyone who has done work on SOI modules or the physical exercises associated with IPP in order to improve themselves.
Kung fu becomes more than just words as you delve deeper into what the meaning of those words is. Kung fu is an idea. It is an idea that who we are today is not static – that we can improve ourselves if we take the time and put in the effort to do so. Kung fu is the opposite of our fast food, fast information, constantly addicted, and distracted culture. Kung fu is taking the time to slow down and take small and constant steps towards being a more complete person. There is no higher quality in a person than that of self-cultivation. Self-cultivation requires a lot of hard work. SOI is hard work. SOI is the art of kung fu.
written by: Dylan Fitzpatrick, consultant at SOI Service Company