Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Rule #16

I have a list of rules that has come down through a few people and I heard of it first in 1999 from Marc MacYoung and Mushtaq Ali Shah. At the time it was referred to as the Rules of Gerakan Suci Pencak Silat. It is great, and I refer to it often in class. For this post, I want to look at Rule #16. It reads as follows and has commentary (in italics) by Mushtaq.

I am so dangerous I can afford to be polite, reasonable, and mellow.

Only the weak, insecure, and those who live in fear need to woof. Always treat others with respect, strive to understand all points of view, and never let yourself be controlled by negative emotions.

I thought of this rule outside of class during a conversation about teaching and training the martial arts. The subject came up that the public persona of a martial artist can be that of a thug (their word) or a person looking to prove themselves. The person who brought this up had studied an art in college and was saying how the majority of his classmates became more gentile over time and sought resolution over aggression. They did, however, have the ability and willingness to use what they knew should they need to. That being said, this doesn’t mean there aren’t people with Cobra Kai attitudes out there, they just don’t come from my school.

Because of the nature of what we do, I took away a lesson long ago from Marc “Animal” MacYoung about injecting humor into the lesson to keep things from getting to that point where aggression is the overruling emotion. One other lesson about humor I learned along the way is that humor helps the brain retain more information because you relax and things happen more easily without the tensions of various stresses. Ultimately, we want to enjoy and have fun with what we do, so we have a good time while training with the understanding that we are doing something Rory Miller refers to as the practice of “creating cripples and corpses.” Dire, I know.

The further down the road of studying the martial arts you go, the more you come to understand Rule #16 and see that it is not a statement of contempt but of compassion.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Benefits of martial arts training

In my experience, both personal and what I have seen develop in others, nothing helps to ignite an indomitable spirit more than training in the martial arts. The cool thing is this resolute spirit expands way beyond the dojo.

Here are some things you can expect to pick up over time.


Balance is being able to do what you need to do regardless of the precariousness of the situation. Initially, this could be staying on your feet or establishing a connection between your upper and lower body so you can move efficiently. Certainly this will improve those who think they are blessed with two left feet. Often, this idea of physical balance can be called coordination.

As you progress in training, the idea of balance will transcend the physical and reach a psychological state. Here you will develop an understanding of who you are, how you interact with others and what you can do to maintain your integrity. This mindset can help you excel at any endeavor as well as accept setbacks as a lesson. This will lead to a state of balance in every aspect of your life so that you are present in every moment.


One of the coolest things that came out of my martial arts training is meeting and becoming friends with a great number of people. We are all there for various reasons, but we have the underlying theme of the arts connecting us. I look forward to seeing and training with all of them.

The art of being humble

Braggarts are not a product of a good school. Confidence radiates out of a person of humility without the need to be contemptuous.

This is definitely a “lead by example” trait that some schools drop the ball on. When you are looking for a school, trust your gut on how the instructor and students make you feel. If you feel intimidated by the people, it’s not the arts that are at fault.

Self-confidence and self-esteem both get a boost through accomplishments, and the humility of training keeps us in check from getting an inflated ego (there’s that balance thing again...).

(I need your) Discipline

For years, I used to not push this aspect, but then it hit me that I was approaching it from the wrong angle. I used to think it was some mode of teaching self-control and limiting the student in some way and my semi-rebellious nature, well, rebelled. I came to understand it not as a method of conditioning, but as a method of dedication to the task.

By being able to focus on learning a technique in class, I am able to take that same methodology and apply it to many things in my life and that makes everything a lot more fun. This opens the mind to be able to better focus on every day tasks or challenging ones at the office.

The very nature of learning a martial art inspires people to not stop - you get up, brush yourself off and go again. Martial arts are a way to stay vibrant and active by learning something new, reach an understanding of the material and excel at doing it. An aspect of the training in martial arts is the process of learning circles back on itself repeatedly and keeps challenging you to be better.

(You’re just too) Physical

It is no secret that, as a society, we are becoming less healthy. The main thing is lack of movement. The thing is, it doesn’t take a lot to stay mobile and active. Training in a martial art hits all the good points to be a healthy person.

One benefit of exercise is it keeps your mind focused and awake. Exercise releases endorphins which help us not only feel better but think better. By their nature, the martial arts work a variety of muscle groups. Add to that different body types and this really pushes your body. This means the workout is never exactly the same, and we use more of our bodies and get a better workout.

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