Reflecting On and Clarifying Myself
I noticed that a comment I left and information in my previous blog post may have generated some negativity. This was never my intention. Recent material that I feel was probably a response to the content I posted, has led me to reflect upon myself and where I stand in the world of Martial Art. I wish to clarify what I meant and explain how recent (probable) feedback has realigned my perspective.
Bruce Lee has become a big inspiration to me, perhaps even more than I realise. I have a friend from school who was passionate about the communal expressions of MMA and traditional Goju Ryu Karate. I couldn't understand how he liked MMA and why he was so deeply into the tradition of Goju Ryu Karate because it is another system that is crystallised like ice rather than spontaneous like water. One time, I sent him the photograph below that I found on the Internet. He seemed to be almost offended when I sent him this picture. This didn't damage our friendship or anything. When we graduated high school, I bought him a copy of Bruce Lee's book Artist of Life, because this book has such a strong emphasis on liberation. On the front page of the book, I even wrote: "Any Martial and/or physical fitness facility can be a great way to enhance your overall human experience without question. However, you will never find True/Pure Martial Art from any external source. The only place you will ever find Martial Art in it's absolute purest form is within yourself." Now that I reflect on this, I think I was reiterating Bruce Lee's teachings in my own words. Looking back, I see the extent of Bruce Lee's influence. As you will read in the below paragraphs, hopefully you will see that for me personally, training in traditional Martial Arts hasn't been the ideal experience one might hope it would be. Because of this, I can now see why Bruce Lee's philosophies were so appealing to me, because he was promoting "no way". I'll get to what I am referring to shortly. Here is the photo that I was referring to...
When I left my comment on another bloggers post, I was more so expressing the point of view popularised by Bruce Lee. I saw and of corse still do see a lot of beauty in it. However, I didn't mention and haven't been expressing the beauty of communal expressions in my publications over the past number of months. I didn't realise this at the time I left the comment in question, but I currently believe that I was representing only half of my view. I did mention that there is beauty in both sides of the topic, but I went more in depth as to why there is beauty and benefit in the individualistic approach and not the communal approach. I think this is why some people may have got the impression that I'm completely against communal expressions. I can now understand how people received this impression but it is simply not true.
I have been training at a local Taekwondo club for seven years. Classes only run for one hour each and there are only two classes a week available to me. There are also two, one hour junior classes a week. I have assisted my instructor in teaching the clubs curriculum to children of primary school age for four years now. One of these nights is volunteer work that I do out of passion for teaching and also to have more time in the Martial Art class environment, the other night I'm fortunate enough to get payed a bit for teaching. I find that training 4 hours per week just isn't enough for me to effectively progress in all areas of Martial Art. By this point I've also learnt most of what I can learn at my school. I know almost all of the forms in WTF Taekwondo. My instructor has forgotten the last few forms in the curriculum so I have to learn them from books and YouTube videos. I also asked my instructor (who I'm not naming out of respect) "Why don't we practice meditation?". His response was "People don't have time for meditation in this modern day and age so we don't bother practicing it." I spoke to him about the philosophies (Tao) associated with Martial Art but he quickly said "The problem with these old philosophies are that they are old and out of date. They are impractical for today." I don't wan't to disagree with my instructor but I feel I must because I know that Tao is eternal. The problem with my Taekwondo school is that it's availability is very limited and the approach isn't holistic enough for a student like me to become a well rounded human being. When it comes to the other students, I've tried to build a family like environment but to them, Taekwondo is just like a side hobby. They don't take it as seriously as I do. When commencing running drills, they often walk, they often don't do exercises like push ups properly. I have tried to push them but the just make excuses and disrespectful faces at me. I eventually decided to stop trying so hard in getting them to do Taekwondo properly. They are only cheating themselves. How can there be a Martial Arts family environment here? I think the idea of a Martial Art or Wushu Family is beautiful and I know they do exist out there. From my observations though, it's a rarity and although I've tried to make it a reality in my own life, it's just not my reality. This saddens me. Now there is a BJJ and a Shito-Ryu Karate club that have opened up in recent years, but rolling around with sweaty men all the time isn't what I seek in Martial Art and well, I explained all about the Shito-Ryu Karate school here: http://freddiesmodernkungfu.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/my-experiences-in-shito-ryu-karate.html.
Due to all these reasons I started Tai Chi. I say with confidence that my Tai Chi instructor is inline with the Tao. His ambitions are to keep the club of a relatively small size to ensure the highest quality in his students. At the moment, a full class is about three students including myself. My Tai Chi instructor is open minded, has a great sense of humour and teachers completely out of passion; a few months ago he mentioned that his Tai Chi business is nearly paying for itself. For him, business is a very low priority because it tends to corrupt the traditional teachings. There's also no point in trying to make the business bigger because the local population of this country town isn't big enough for large amounts of people to be interested. My instructor and I have spoken about this topic and we both agree that the small percentage of Martial Art instructors who can make a living off teaching the Martial Arts have that right. They are humans who need to eat just like everyone else on earth. If they can generate enough money to live off, then they are blessed. From a practical point of view, I currently don't see this ever becoming my circumstances unless I relocate to a city. At the moment, Tai Chi is just brilliant and I doubt I'll ever stop it because every time I do a form, and infinite amount of things are happening. I won't live long enough to observe them all. Every time you do a form, it is different to the last time and that's what keeps it interesting.
This is my current reality with traditional Martial Art systems. It works out to 5 hours of training per week. I believe a Martial Artist should train something like 29 hours per week. So, because I'm not making much progress at Taekwondo and Tai Chi only goes one hour (which for something slow like Tai Chi is extremely unrealistic), I am forced to venture beyond what these local part time Martial Art businesses provide. For example, I obtained the knowledge of how to do the splits at Taekwondo and I obtained this physical achievement by putting in my own work at home. My Taekwondo school has given me a foundation to work from but now I must research my own experiences. A funny thing is that sometimes I discover a new technique, people at Taekwondo see me use it and then they start using it themselves. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a Martial Art family where members of the group all have similar views and are on the same page, but I have to be accepting of people's competitive natures at Taekwondo in order to get along. I also need to accept that they display no interest in the spiritual development of Martial Art. The only person I can talk to about Tao and Zen in the context of Martial Art is my Tai Chi instructor. We get along so well at this time and I feel truly blessd to have met him. The Internet provides me with another means of communicating with people who see Martial Art as I do. During this year I have developed a strong friendship with Lxeon through our correspondence over Skype. I feel that this friendship is truly great and I hope it endures in decades to come. Also, when I train at home, my motivation is intrinsic. There's no one there that motivates me. My immediate family members have no interest in Martial Art or any desires to physically exercise. They are very sedentary. This is a contagious behaviour that I have to resist. I don't make much money at the moment, but whatever money I do get that I can spend goes towards this...
I am not showing you this training space to show off in any way. I'm only showing you this picture so you can see the environment I train in. I am grateful for the space that I have. One day, I wish to teach what I have learned from Martial Art directly. Yet, I have no desire to create any type of world wide phenomenon. Also, I wish to mention that my Taekwondo instructor is in no way a 'bad' instructor. What he does teach he teaches very well with lots of detail. Although I feel dissatisfied from time to time, I have a lot of respect for him.
I hope this post has helped my readers gain a better understanding of my stance on Martial Art. I am NOT a rebel to Martial Art systems. Even though my written expression hasn't been focused in it of late, I believe Martial Art systems are beautiful even though they haven't worked as well as I would have liked them to recently. Although, I do understand that the way I was writing may have given people a certain perception of me. For this reason, I am going to be much more careful about how I express myself through writing. I am going to do my best to be as clear and very importantly, as balanced as possible. If you ever misunderstand any thing I write, please leave a question in the comment section or just email me. I hope that my rapport with everyone in the future will remain balanced. Now that I think about it, I and almost everyone I know that practices Martial Art get caught up with theorising and sometimes even debating how we should conduct our practice. Sometimes how we get there, distracts us from actually getting there. When this is the case with me, I need to consciously recognise this, take 2 steps back and do some deep breathing to centre myself. I can't let fine details of the journey totally distract me from the ultimate outcome... peace.