“Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)” is an iconic hip hop album from 1993 by the Wu Tang Clan. Some would say it revolutionised hip hop at the time. The subtitle (36 Chambers) has multiple theories, meanings and references.
Our hearts are made up of 4 chambers (two atria and two ventricles). The Wu Tang Clan has nine members. (36 chambers) can be seen to represent the nine hearts of the members. (9 hearts x 4 chambers = 36 chambers)
The most obvious reference is to the kung fu film “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”. This film is generally regarded as the gold standard of the genre. The title refers to the different levels a monk had to conquer on the way to becoming a kung fu master.
I took up MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) training a year ago. This is a mixture of Boxing, Kick-Boxing, Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu. The basics of Boxing can be broken down to footwork and stance, breath, and a punch combo of one-two and one-two-three (one being a jab, two being a straight and three being a hook). At first, this feels so unnatural and awkward but over time you start to move smoothly and your confidence grows.
My MMA Coach/Sensei told me once that combat and training were all about being put in uncomfortable situations but learning to be comfortable in those situations. On one occasion I was in a class where my peers were of a much higher level. Sensei mentioned that I will make mistakes and will stuff up some of the exercises as we’re training at a higher level, but that’s ok as I’m still learning and it will come in time. That night we had a sparring session in the class. I was feeling pretty confident with my basic’s and was parrying what my partner was delivering and landed some one-two’s. I was feeling myself, feeling pretty special. My partner must’ve sensed my confidence and delivered a four-hit combo. BAM, tagged me in the head. Then he delivered another four-hit combo, BAM, tagged again.
Humbled and reminded that there are levels to this or chambers I still haven’t seen. My partner invited me to take a look, he showed me another level.
(Enter the Agile Coaching Lab)
I recently finished the Agile Coaching Lab course and I reflect on my journey. The cohort was made up of 8 members plus the leader “Jakub Jurkiewicz” which brings the total to 9 (36 Chambers). I compare Jakub to the “RZA” who is the de facto leader of the Wu Tang Clan. He’s behind bringing the group together and producing most albums for the group and its respective members. Some of the members went on to have successful careers with RZA’s guidance and mentorship. I could respectfully refer to Jakub as ‘Sensei’ or ‘Sifu’. He mentioned before the course started that it would be challenging and hard work and it was about the journey. It was about learning, growing, feedback, facilitation and experimentation. I would be asked to try things and do things I’ve never done before. For instance, writing about this and sharing it in public is uncomfortable for me. Over time I’ve become more comfortable and even enjoy it. I’ve learnt so much over the past 9 weeks. I entered with a basic level and understanding (one-two-three) and have exited seeing different levels and doors to different chambers.
I find myself having a different mindset and seeing things through a different lens now. Kind of like augmented reality in the Pokemon Go app. Everything looks normal and is fine, but then take a look through this AR app or put these glasses on, what do you see now?
I often hear people say “I can understand (Moari, Samoan, or French for example) but I can’t speak it. I feel like this now, I can understand and see the different levels and chambers of agile, some of them I can speak in and some of them I can’t, but over time I will be entering new chambers and going to different levels.
While I reflect and have “Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)” playing in the background at the time of writing this, I ponder these wise words and a simple question…
“If you live through defeat, you are not defeated. If you are beaten but acquire wisdom, you have won. Lose yourself to improve yourself. Only when we shed all self-definition do we find who we really are.” — RZA
“And what else?” — Jakub