April 18, 2014

Your Martial Art, How You Say ... Sucks

Your reflexes are pitiful.
The seasons move faster.
Okay, uh, hey everybody! This is a little awkward for me-
Hurry up, white boy!
Yeah. So, uh, I've been ordered-
*Ahem* Asked ... to allow a guest writer on the blog. And, uh, well ...
I am way-ting ...
Right. So, here he is ... the Master of the house of Sinanju, Chiun.
The great, wise, and powerful Master of Sinanju, dumbass. Do not forget it. It is no wonder you have lost so much hair, Jimbo - your brain was not even smart enough to keep it attached to your misshapen head!
Now, where was I ...? 
Ah, yes, your martial art, how you say ... sucks. It is "crappy." Please bear this in mind when writing in the future.  
Sinanju is the 'Big Bang' from whence all other arts were created. Some, like yours, may have generated a small following. How cute you wear those split-toed booties. Perhaps you could fit a paint brush in there and draw crappy calligraphy too.     
But really, why bother training in a crappy martial art? Why bother training in any that is not Sinanju for the matter of that? 

Many years ago, during my college days, I trained with a guy for several years. I left his training for a simple reason: He was a dick.

I liked his art and he was quite capable at it. But, man, he was a narcissistic douchebag. He came off like Chiun from the Destroyer/Remo Williams series. Eventually, I realized I could no longer tolerate training with an asshole. I walked.

Enter any school as a student (or teacher) with an attitude, ready to prove something, and you will quickly realize you cannot accomplish anything. This is an old theme, akin to, “emptying your cup.” We need to provide ourselves with a perspective that can actually give us perspective. This has to do with giving ourselves permission to learn, to discover, and provide it to others - teacher and students - so we can get to a place to gain some understanding. If we find we cannot do this, then it’s clear we’re not ready for training.

I remember a time Nagato sensei and I were talking about my wife (girlfriend at the time), who I was learning Makko Ho from. He asked, "Is she any good?" Yes, I replied, very good. “Then just believe her," he said. This is very indicative of a Japanese mindset, but nevertheless also very true. Faith needs to come first, whether in religion or martial training. The great thinker St. Augustine’s favorite quote was actually a mis-quote of Isaiah 7:9: If you do not believe, then you will not understand. In other words, faith seeks understanding. Augustine was quite convinced of this and would write 15 books on the matter (see, On the Trinity).

Faith can be very powerful because it is, at the very least, a form of assent, an expression of approval, agreement. But in a deeper sense faith in the form of assent is the permission we give to ourselves to accept the outcome, be it rewards or consequences, in regards to an endeavor, relationship, or way of thinking. It is integral to martial training because without it, there’s no training.

Anytime you deal with martial arts you are actually dealing with three (at least three) aspects: The art itself, the teacher, and the manner in which the teacher teaches. Now, if someone does not go to training they don't get the training. Simple. But for those who go, if they do not assent to learn and instead let an unfettered ego or their own issues take point, it causes conflict between them and one or more of the above aspects – the art, teacher, or the manner of teaching.

For newbies, this is especially troubling because of its inherent contradiction: They are usually in no position to understand their opposition - “Why am I resisting this, again?” And because of this internal estrangement they won’t even make sense of the simplest aspects of training.

I’m not saying this should be an all-or-nothing compromise. We should be careful with how we approach this stuff - there are plenty of frauds out there. If you are serious about training, don’t close yourself off from others - you are not part of a cult. Be aggressive in your exploration and discovery, but don't get myopic about it just because it’s what you’re doing. We should be mindful and ask questions, but that doesn't necessarily mean putting the art, teacher, or the teachings, up on the stand and cross examining them. 

To get good, learn deeply, be creative, we have to give ourselves permission and "just believe it" - the art, teacher, and delivery - until we know otherwise.  This search takes time. I searched for years to find what I was looking for. Hell, I had to move to Japan to find it.

There is one simple reason I am the head of my dojo. It’s the same reason my dojo exists at all: The assent - faith - of the folks who have made themselves apart of it. If I were an asshole, no one would make themselves apart of anything with me. This is because the dojo is not just me – it’s a community. And as such, one must comport oneself as part of that community.

If you choose not to do that, guess what? No training for you.

No comments: