Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection

Two of the most important things I have learnt in the fields of education and Philosophy are Objectivity and Relativity.

Recently I’ve come to see just how broadly these two ways of thinking apply beyond just these two fields; particularly in my BJJ practice.

*For the sake of this exploration, I would like to work with the following definitions of Objectivity & Relativity.

1. Objectivity refers to concrete or set axioms (statements) of truth that do not shift regardless of which perspective they are examined from.

2. Relativity refers to statements which, depending on the perspective they are approached from, will have a subjective value; being either true or false depending on the conditions of the situation or person.

Let’s continue…

Objective perspectives are highly valued in a martial art such as Brazilian Jiu jitsu, where critiquing and assessing one’s own abilities is the key to improvement. Objectivity can also be seen as concrete checkpoints or reference points in your training.

Having objective reference points in your training is crucial for improvement as martial artist.

A good example of this is watching the beginner, who is only capable of doing 3 rounds of sparring when they begin. After 6 months of training, they are able to do 6 rounds without needing a break. Objectively, they can reflect on their training and be able to gauge the improvement they have made in terms of their fitness.

We need to be objective not only in reflection, but in goal setting too. Having concrete, measurable goals is the surest way to fast track your improvement.

The practitioner who comes to training with a specific goal in mind that they want to achieve is always going to benefit more than the practitioner who trains without intention.

When a person trains with the specific goal getting to a certain position or executing a particular technique, they meet their objective goals and receive instant feedback on those specific aspects regardless of whether their attempts are successful or not.

Having objective goals is excellent for staying positive during challenging stretches of training and can help a practitioner to see improvement even during the most demanding training sessions or most challenging techniques.

Subjective thinking plays a different, yet equally important role when it comes to training.

Subjectivity relieves us of the burden of comparison.

Every practitioner is on their own path. It is not a race or a competition and we need to think about our own improvement in relative terms compared to others. This is the cornerstone of staying positive in training and a key premise to remember through our martial arts journey.

Subjectivity also gives us the freedom to develop differeny styles and strategies. What works for some practitioners does not necessarily work for others. A technique that some consider good math be a disastrous error for others. In this way, martial arts are extremely fluid in their meaning and what we can consider to be objectively true.

I’m still learning how to apply both of these perspectives to my own training, but the rabbit hole runs deep when we begin to apply different ways of thinking to the same object.

If the goal is to improve as a martial artist and as a person, I highly recommend exploring these two methodologies for yourself. There is a vast range of information readily available online for those of you who are willing to expand your minds and open yourselves to new ways of thinking about your training and indeed your life in general.

Thanks for reading.



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