German version: Integrales Tischtennis

Martin Mewes: What is the main message of the “integral concept ?”

Jerzy Grycan: Main message of integral concept is: “work with the body, mind, spirit and ‘shadow’ in self, culture and nature”. To develop our potential in sport, in table tennis, we must grow as humans. Designing any integral program for the player, coach or manager, you need to consider working with the body, mind, spirit and ‘shadow’:

– Body. We are, and have, the body – so for example in table tennis our fundamental work is to develop physical, technical and tactical qualities and skills. All these qualities and skills are in traditional table tennis training.

– Mind. We also are, and have, the mind. It becomes more evident that the ranking in sport, and in table tennis especially, is closely combined with the mind states and skills.

– Spirit. But we are also spiritual beings. We are also ‘the Witness’ of what is ‘outside’ and ‘inside’, we are ‘the Awareness’. We already have more and more evidence, that this dimention can be especially important in our real transformation into more mature humans, also in sports, also in table tennis. So in future sport, and future table tennis, we will need some sort of spiritual practices.

– ‘Shadow’. We also all have the aspect of ourself that we prefare to repress, and say ‘it doesn’t exist’, ‘it is not me’ – the ‘shadow’. The shadow includes our deepest fears, guilts, anxieties, angers, resentments etc. Working with the ‘shadow’ seems to be very important for further development. If we do not work with the ‘shadow’, it will come out in the most unwanted moments of our life and destroys our performance. Psychotherapy and various sorts of autopsychotherapy are the methods of working with the shadow.  Those potential activities for sports people goes beyond traditional ‘mental training’.

– ‘Self, culture and nature’. In our table tennis (sports) work we all have to deal with inner and outer world. For example the player thinks and feels in some way (self), shares common values and worldviews, is connected to some wider groups with specific language, common notions etc. (culture) and has developed some behaviours and skills in specific bio and social environment – family, school, sports organisation etc. (nature). To be effective in our work, we need to consider all that aspects: self, culture and nature.

Martin Mewes: How did you came in contact with the “integral model” ?

Jerzy Grycan: Firstly, I practiced sports and table tennis as a youngster. Competition, and desire of constant improvement, led me to studying champions in sports and in table tennis. For years I have beed studying almost everything possible about ‘mastery’ in table tennis, in sports and in life. In 1977 I read some articles about Mitsuru Kohno, the Japanese World Champion from Birmingham, who said some very intriging words, that ‘it is possible to win in the state of perfect selflessness’. I learned from Mitsuru Kohno that he would spent a lot of time practicing zazen meditation etc.

Secondly, for many years I was very passionate about personal development, awareness, maturity, ‘higher aspirations’, yoga, biofeedback, meditation, stress management etc. For years I have been studying psychology, education, mental training etc.. For instance I spent 4 years in Gdansk Academy of Physical Education studying full-time coaching and physical education. I spent 4 years in Krakow Gestalt Institute studying part-time psychotherapy and mental training’. I also studied coaching in Beijing Sport’s Institute, Silva Mind Controle in Poland, NLP in Melbourne etc. I was especially sensitive to all holistic and systemic concepts. For example I studied ‘Spiral Dymanics’ as the core part of my NLP training with Peter Dawson Integrated Learning in Melbourne. I just could not miss Ken Wilber and his integral AQAL. I believe AQAL model (“all quadrants, all levels, all states, all lines and all types”) is the best existing map of the Reality.

Martin Mewes:  Why is “integral thinking and acting” important in sport / table tennis?

Jerzy Grycan: Integral thinking and acting can bring all table tennis activities (playing, coaching, managing, and quality of life) into higher levels . AQAL map enables better integration of all we know about table tennis and sports into own training systems. AQAL map indicates that integral training system in table tennis should consider:

  1. All quadrants:
  • Body training (behaviour, organizm) including physical qualities training (agility, speed, strength, power, endurance etc.), technical training (footwork, strokes – services, service returns, attack, off-the-table-defence, pushes, blocks, chops etc), tactical training (tactical principles, style of play, tactical strategies etc.), competitions, recovery (physiotherapy, health conservation, relax, diet, living style etc.).  Traditional sports training has unsually the form of ‘brainless repetition’. Sports body training can be enriched by ‘body awareness’ and ‘awareness through movement’. Table tennis training can be developed with the ideas from yoga, Feldenkrais method, bioenergetics, or Holosinc Solution etc..
  • Mind training (awareness) including studying (schooling, reading, mapmaking etc.), mental training (afirmations, visualisations, concentration etc.), psychotherapy (in example Gestalt ‘shadow-work’, body-work etc.), spiritual practice (medtation, centring prayer, zazen etc.). Traditional training traditionally disrespects mental training. In integral training system mind should include and evolves as a more complex whole than just physical excersise (‘mind transcends and includes the body’, ‘spirit transcends and includes the mind’).  From integral perspective sport training can be a part of mental training, developing higher aspirations, higher goals. From integral perspective sport/table tennis activity can become a form of meditation, or spiritual practice, a way of growing as “peacefull warrior”.
  • Developing training culture should include group process (contact, dialog,  cooperation etc.), value system, practicing ethics (intentions, practicing ethical acting), building relations (social service, family, friends etc.), art (filming, painting, music itp.).  Creating integral ‘WE’, integral comunity requires building it on the basis of higher values, higher aspirations etc..
  • Developing training environment including organisation (recruitment, rules, laws, responsibilities, effective management, effective systems and procedures etc.), material environment (finances, training hall, facilities, equipment etc.), technology (video systems, computers, software etc.), politics, media, promotion etc.for players, coaches, officials, managers etc.. Integral table tennis leader would say as Fred Koffman: “if you want to do any business in more enlightened way, enter the society, and ask, how can I bring more light and more love into this situation, whatever it is”. He/she would ask as Tami Simon, the owner of ‘Sounds True’: “do we do something meaningfull here, that changes our world for better? do we create environment for development for everybody here? do we create love here? do we have results/profits in our club or association?”.
  1. All levels of development. There are stages of our development. For example, to make it simple, we go from ‘egocentric’, to ‘ethnocentric’, through ‘worldcentric’ to ‘integral’ levels. etc From every stage of development we create different worldview. On different stages of development our training system is different. Integral training in table tennis should include the whole spetrum – matter, body, mind, and Spirit. Integral training system (of body, mind, organisation and culture) should be measured by how it helps people to move into higher levels of development – higher sport performance level, higher results, and toward the highest known levels of Enlightment and Awareness, as the most important issue). Integral training system always considers the actual level of the player (group, club, team etc.), his/her ‘center of gravity’, and organizes the right environment around it – people (players, coaching staff, managers, administration staff), management system, technologies etc. According to Ken Wilber, the latest scientific evidence shows, that people and organisations that function from the integral level, are around 10 times more effective than people and organisations functioning on lower levels. According to Wilber ‘integral organisations’ should be common after around 100 years time.  This can be very promising for sports people. This, so-called vertical development, can lead to higher levels of playing, training, coaching and managing
  2. All basic linesof development in the training process:
  • Cognitive line – knowledge, thinking, curiosity, creativity, passion of never ending learning etc.;
  • Moral line – ethical acting, ‘fair-play’ , honesty, self-respect,  respect for the opponent, respect for equipment and environment, team, others, country, planet etc.;
  • Interpersonal line – comunicating skills, listening, giving feedback, assertive expressing anger, understanding, mutual trust, creative conflict solving etc.;
  • Emotional line – emotional awareness, dealing with difficult emotions, trigerring positive emotions during play, mood controle, motivating oneself etc.;
  • Spiritual line – development of self-identity, self-awareness.

This can lead to higher levels of the player, coach or manager.

  1. All states – being aware of Beta, Alfa, Theta and Delta brain states, and use them accordingly in the process of the training, competition and recovery. One of the mail roles of the coach is to help the player to reach and to maintain higher mental states, like ideal performance state during play. This can lead to higher levels of every activity of the player, coach or manager, like playing, coaching or managing.
  2. All types. We are all man or woman, have some body type, inteligence and personality type etc.. We need to create specific individual training program for everybody – man or woman, learning fast or slow, healthy or disable person etc.. Every player need own individual style of play, individual training, individual rutines. Every coach or manager need to develop own individual style of coaching and managing. Integral coaching or managing requires more flexible and creative approach.  This also can lead to higher levels of playing, training, coaching and managing.

Martin Mewes:  Do you know about practice / examples for integral thinking and acting in table Tennis ?

Jerzy Grycan: Integral perspective in sport is, I believe, the future. Let me first to tell about some experiences from other sports. There are several books that says about some more ‘integral’ experiences. They can be the fundament for further development of integral table tennis and sport. They are for instance: „Ultimate Athlete” and “Mastery” of George Leonard’a, „Inner Game of Tennis” of Timothy Galway, „Golf for Enlightment” of Deepak Chopra, or “Sacret Hoops” of Phill Jackson. There is much more. One of them is everything written by Dan Millman (the movie based on his experiences, “Peaceful Warrior”, is worth watching). They all can good inspiration for further integral studies in table tennis and sports. They all can enrich traditional Theory and Technology of Sports. They all indicate the importance of some aspects like spirituality. They all can be useful in building integral training model in table tennis.  There are also some interesting experiences in table tennis, like that of Mitsuru Kohno from Japan. I do not know much more from table tennis, however…

I spent over 30 years of my search for integral knowledge in sports and table tennis. I spent over 20 years working with Polish and Australian National Teams.  This was the experience of ‘more than traditionally integral training’ based on such principles as: ‘the main purpose was to achieve table tennis mastery, together with personal development; the coach is the facilitator focused on the ‘here and now’ process (more like psychotherapist in Gestalt therapy); training is always creative experimentation; mental toughness training is everyday practice, just as physical, technical and tactical preparation; meditation is a part of players preparation; competition is a creative challange; performance must be studied carfully with statistics; recovery is healthy and possibly the most harmonious life-style; all people (players and coaches) should  learn everyday something new and build learning organisation around; everyday study the best, and innovate; in training try to use new technologies’ etc. In example in 1995 in World Championships in China (TianJin) 20-years old Lucjan Blaszczyk (ranked 75) qualified to quaterfinal in singles. In the 1994-1995 Preparation Program he practiced, together with Polish National Team, 300 hours mental training, including 150 hours of zazen meditation. From that time on he stopped such a training, he hasn’t achieved better result in singles, however won 11 medals in European Championships, including 4 medals with the team. And my experiences seems to me limited, but at the same time very promising. The players I worked with have achieved hundreds of medals on international and national arenas. I have documented and studied all that experiences. I have written a book that says about “Integral Table Tennis” (in Polish “Integralny Tenis Stolowy”, see: ).

Warsaw, 2009.01.15