Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Insurance Policy*

Why study a martial art when the odds are in everyday living you won’t need to use it? It is very much like insurance - you put in time and effort in case you need it.

There are plenty of “plans” available to you out there, and they all have their pros and cons. The “policy” you choose is one based on your needs.

My preference on life insurance is to go with a whole life policy versus a term life policy. Term policies are limited. You put resources in to something that will run out, and you have no option to use any of that investment as needed. When you invest in a whole policy, you are required to invest a little more up front, but you are able to use that policy in more ways over time.

How does this compare to martial arts training? Imagine martial arts training is like whole life insurance. It involves putting in effort and time upfront and the return on this investment is more than just the ability to have skills to deal with physical confrontation. The somatic movements can be applied metaphorically in dealing with familiar relationships.

Say you are in a meeting, and there is some disagreement on some issue. You have your thoughts and others have theirs. How they present their argument will dictate your response to make your point known and understood. To present your point, you may have to evade theirs or strike at it head on, or perhaps a bit of both. In this situation, there will most likely be a compromise needed so tact will be key. Avoid looking like a bully. The point being you will relate to the person and they to you and understanding that dynamic will help you maintain your balance.

It is that balance that a “whole” policy brings versus the limitations of a “term” policy. To put it another way, a term policy will limit its scope of the way things are presented. You will be expected to mimic what is presented. Whole policies expect you to take what is shown to you, understand it so you can use the principles to create your own way of doing it, and apply it outside the system in daily life situations.

What’s your policy?

*Props to Steve Perry for the idea.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thoughts for the seeker

Do not believe a thing because many repeat it.

Do not accept a thing on the authority of one

or another of the sages of old,

nor on the ground that a statement is found in the books.

Believe nothing merely on the authority of

your teachers or of the priests.

After examination, believe that which

you have tested for yourselves

and found reasonable, which is in conformity

with your well-being

and that of others.

-Kalama Sutra

We all have our personal reasons to pursue these arts we practice. I will not bore you with conjecture over your reasons; suffice to say, mine is not the same as it used to be. Regardless of the original intent, a change comes over a majority of us. In light of the variety of individuals, that change is justifiably diverse.

While it is perfectly acceptable to not want to look further and only focus on the outer aspects of a given Way, there is undeniably more for the seeker. Occasionally things just fall in your lap! Our views are inherently subjective, however if we leave ourselves open to the possibility of new thoughts or principles, we enrich our lives.

It is the same with these arts. Each offers a dictate, which, if applied in general, can guide us through this ride of life. On the surface it can appear as all we do is combat orientated: a means to an end. It is instead more akin to finding ourselves by any means.

Often, because of the eccentricities of what we do, we are asked, “What do you train in,” or “What is your style?” The best answer I have ever heard to this was, “Whatcha got?” In other words, it is an experience to be had and shared, not a description to be heard.

In our society, we categorize or name things to better understand the conceptual. By applying “this” or “that” to something we seek comprehension, and sometimes the endless divisions of criteria can bog us down. Names can be a guide or a guise. They can open a door just as easily as clearing the path to leave you wondering which is the way.

The key is application of a principle espoused by several cultures and styles of martial arts the world over: water. Yes, it has become cliché in some circles, but its truth is not diminished. The clearest water flows, and to be like water you seek out new experiences, as well as continue to practice your interpretation of your art.

Taoists describe this idea beautifully. With the phrase mo chih ch’ü, which means going right along without hesitation. Here, the idea of water is expressed to its fullest. In more recent times, this is usually stated as, “going with the flow.”

Things should be made as simple as possible,

but not any simpler.

-Albert Einstein

While on our journey to the next step, a lot of breath is used on a word: simplicity. It is a lofty goal we move toward. Approaching this ideal is similar to my telling a new student, “I want you to forget what I show you.” That initially receives a quizzical look. In essence, move or evolve toward simplicity. When you learn something that seems complex at first, does it not, with practice, become easier? Integrating the art into everyday living is what happens and thus our own evolution reflects this change. Even as we learn seemingly more and more from different schools of thought, when we see the underlying principles used, what was once foreign becomes familiar. It’s that simple!

Your truth is not my truth.

-Larry Hartsell

There are plenty of people and schools who profess some sort of truth. The problem I witness with them is that their idea is just that: “their truth.” Therefore, be wary of those who offer subjective truths (and the price they may be asking), and search out those who are still seeking.

Truth lies in experience, and can be analogous to enlightenment, satori, or shouting “Eureka!” It is as elusive as the Holy Grail, and most only hint at its destination. A word of caution, though, do not get so full of what is right that you cannot see what is good. Or to put it another way: do not cling so tightly that you blind yourself to the possibility that what is true today, may be false tomorrow. In the end, the truth you seek, and the truth you discover, is yours.

First, learn your instrument.

Then forget all about that-

and just play.

-Charlie Parker

Do not concern yourself with “this” art or “that” way; be committed to who you are. In this age of instant gratification, the study of discovering who you are can take a lifetime, and odds are it will. You will invest a significant amount of time, for nothing worth so much will take anything less. Come to understand that you are now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. NOW. The moment it happens, you will understand. It is beyond you, beyond me, beyond martial ways. It is indescribable.

All steps are revealed at the correct time, and it is your choice to take them. I welcome you on our journey, one that needs no destination. Bring something of yourself along and discover something more. You will walk and cross many, many paths. Then one day you will look back, see them disappear, and be on your own.

Admit it and change everything!


Ultimately, the most advanced aspect of the martial ways is development and definition of character. As I stated, a change comes over most practitioners. These arts tend to bring out the best in the individual. By dedicating yourself to advancement in whatever art, style, system, or Way that is chosen, you can then contribute more to your community. This could be by volunteering in some way or by just being a law-abiding citizen.

By breaking down physical and mental barriers, we can reach deeper into ourselves to find an understanding. Look and you will find the link. The marriage of the physical and mental drives us toward the mystical. I am not saying that you are forced into anything against your will, here. It merely becomes an internal, or spiritual, quest to better you.

When you reach the point where your body cries out to stop, but all that you are pushes you on, then you will understand what drives us. It is the point that you do not “feel” like working out, but your body demands it. Rites of passage are few and far between in this “modern” society. However, through hard work and commitment, a sense of accomplishment is achieved.

Having this sense, you come to see all of life’s boundaries erode to reveal the true nature of those around you. Also, you begin to see what they can show you, so that you can further improve upon yourself.

In most cases, this will take the admission that the poet Rumi was inferring. In order to change, you must accept what is before you, now. Come to know you are not in the moment -- you are the moment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why I started training in the martial arts

Since I was a kid I have had a fascination with martial arts. I trained in Tae Kwon Do a little in high school and college. By the time I was out of college and working in a job that had me sitting around all day, I was, as one friend put it, “pushing the deuce.” I needed to get back in shape.

About the time that I decided to get off my butt, a new school opened just down the road from home. When I walked in, the class was rolling around on the ground which was a new look to me and I was instantly intrigued. I learned the school taught Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do Concepts. This is a branch of the art and philosophy of the late Bruce Lee.

Now I had heard of Bruce Lee the movie star, I mean who hadn’t? Yet, I had never considered that people were still teaching what he trained in. I signed up to train twice a week at the Ryan Academy of Martial Arts. By the end of the first month, I had upped that to three times a week and within six months, I was training six days a week. I was hooked.

It was hard work and I initially earned the nickname, “Smelling Salt,” although I never had to use them, I definitely was pushing myself. Hard. I started gaining energy again and was moving back away from that 200-pound mark.

I discovered that there is a line in the sand we establish in our heads that seems to hold us back. We reach that point where things just stop and it seems we can’t go any further. The thing is, that first divide is only in our heads. We can jump past it and push ourselves farther; draw the line again, just a little bit more ahead of us. It is always there and that’s okay. It gives us a place to aim for and that new target is always just beyond the line.

To me that is what makes martial arts a life long endeavor: that constant striving to discover and improve.

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