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Martial Arts – The Masterkey!

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“To do Martial Arts you have to be totally dedicated!”….

“To be good you have to sacrifice many other things in your life”…..

“To get there you have to be single minded”…..

How often do you hear this?  How true is it?

Words can be confusing because they are a method we use for defining an idea and often they mean slightly different things to different people, but let’s look at the idea that you have to dedicate yourself to one thing to the exclusion of most others to be good at Martial Arts – because I disagree.

Martial Arts are a method of self improvement.  Therefore if they didn’t enhance the rest of your life, they haven’t done their job!

Martial Arts should:

Improve your physical and mental health.

Improve your social skills.

Improve your confidence.

Improve your awareness.

Improve your relationships.

Improve your ability to concentrate.

Improve your ability to learn.

Improve your ability to listen.

Improve your career possibilities.

Improve your family life. 

In effect they should EXPAND your mind, not narrow it.  You should gain a wider perspective of life.  As your health improves you should find that you have the energy to do more with your time.  As your mind gets brighter you should find that many more things in life are interesting and discover various aspects of life can be improved with your new mental focus.  It’s not unusual for people who have been studying Martial Arts for a while start reading books again (or for the first time in their life!) take up a musical instrument or start studying other things.

Many people find a new lease of life in their career, family and relationships when they’ve been training for a while because of the alchemy that’s taken place inside.  Once again they’ve learned HOW to learn, how to listen, to pay attention.  Suddenly they can hear what people around them have been saying to them for a long time, they find that they’ve developed the sensitivity to feel what’s emanating from the speaker.

At work they realise what’s been blocking their progression is the same thing that has been stopping them from passing that grading!  The mentoring process in the Martial Arts means that they have the help to overcome that blockage, whether it’s in their character, health, energy levels or just plain lack of learning and practise!

In last month’s article I talked about “giving birth” to ideas and understandings. It seems to me that every human being has a continuous flow of creative ideas and understandings all of their life IF they do nothing to restrict it.  This gives us our purpose for existence.

If we stem the flow through ignorance, emotion, cowardice and all the other negative emotions and thoughts that we are capable of – then our purpose in life remains hidden.  When we broaden our outlook and seek wisdom through experience we allow it to flow.  The narrower our vision – the more restricted we are.  The broader – the more creative and wise.

When we engage in Martial Arts we engage in a concentrated form of life.  The Dojo/Kwoon is the microcosm with life as the macrocosm.  If we have carefully chosen our Sensei/Sifu we have the Mentor, someone who can motivate, direct and guide us through this condensed form of living that prepares us to deal with the real thing in ALL it’s aspects.

With Martial Arts training we find MORE time, energy and motivation to deal with the rest of our life.  The narrow minded “dedicated” Martial Artist has got it sadly wrong.

I’m not saying that you merely place Martial Arts in a corner of your life and “balance” it with the rest; I’m saying that it is your MASTERKEY to being able to enhance the rest of your life.  The training you get from a good Sensei/Sifu allows you to give birth to the real you, giving birth is painful and a struggle but you are reliant on no one else but your “inner”, intuitive self, and you have a master inner strategy with which you can deal with your inner and outer world.

Development is like watching the hands of a clock, you don’t see the changes – others do – and when you do realise how much you’ve changed it’s often a shock.  Many students bleat “I don’t feel that I’m improving” and you think… WHAT? If only I’d taken a video of you when you first walked through the door!  Those that leave feeling that they’ve “cracked it” devolve very quickly.  You see the “ex students” in the street and think “they’ve lost the plot”…  Martial arts study is like swimming upstream…  stop swimming and you just go backwards.

Even the Buddha said “when you build a new roof, you must keep it in a good state of repair”…

If I were asked why I study the Martial Arts the answer would have to be to learn to become wise.  Wisdom is that intrinsic value within all your thinking and actions that can only be borne out of experience and pro-active study.  It can only come through broadening your mind and experience and not narrowing it down.

It’s a journey that requires persistent mindful effort, an engaged activity that bears more fruit when practised with like minded individuals and a good mentor.  If you’re going to make that journey, you need a good map and a good guide!  That means a well structured programme of study and a good Sensei/Sifu.

“The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of an eye…. The more light you shine on it the more it contracts……”

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