Setting The Right Goals

Looking at the conversations on FB this morning it struck me that many people are perfectly happy learning and teaching a martial art at a superficial level and I guess that’s the same as any other art or sport and creates a gateway and introduction for many people, but what happens when you want to go deeper?

Firstly you have to decide your goals as deeper can be anything from Buddhist priest to street fighter, so the search for deeper instruction becomes the major difficulty. I could never find THE instructor I needed so had to got to various sources to build, collect and put together the jigsaw of skills I needed.

For me deeper meant a cohesion and balance of training between mind, body and emotions, I worked and taught in the security trade so the application of skills for self defence, arrest and restraint in an intelligent manner were important.

The meaning of life was also paramount. I could never understand why everyone didn’t treat it as a priority. Who and what am I? Why am I here? What’s the purpose of life? Surely this in itself defines whatever we do or think, unless we are lazy, in a malaise or distracted.

This brings me to my point. To be skilful you can’t just accumulate knowledge, you have to internalise it until you become it and this is why it’s important to choose your goals wisely. How many martial artists do you know that have trained for 30 years or more and still only do martial arts instead of becoming a martial artist? Who still behave like a child? Who have just repeated 3 years training 10 times? Narcissism is endemic at a supposed high level in the martial arts because undirected training only exacerbates problems instead of solving them.

You often have to adjust your path as you go along, but having proper goals, direction and the discipline to carry them out understanding that until you fully internalise and become them you’re not there yet – and when you reach your goals you need the same discipline to maintain them.

Someone said the other day “you have your truth and I have mine” – but there can only be one truth, that hopefully we are all studying, we can easily be holding a different piece of the elephant but there is only one elephant (truth) and we all have to broaden our perspective to realise it.

It’s not about enjoyment, or happiness, these only exist because of their opposites. We have to seek wisdom and understanding to have that wider perspective to see things for what they really are, we need to internalise the skills that keep us rooted in the place that wisdom and insight reside, physically, mentally and emotionally, then we won’t end up suffering about our suffering.

2 thoughts on “Setting The Right Goals

  1. Outstanding post. The longer I follow you the more I like.

    There is a lot of wisdom to be found here. “Doing the martial arts instead of becoming a martial artist” is the issue (methinks). A lot has changed over the past thirty years and a lot of knowledge is disappearing without anyone stepping up to fill the void.

    It is hard to find a student willing to put in the time to master the internal aspects of the art. As a society, at least in North America, we’re all about weaponizing ourselves first and that priority gravitates people to the young, inexperienced instructors who are great fighters but do not have the insights or knowledge to inspire anything deeper within their students. There is a vast difference between doing martial arts and being a martial artist. As we allow the term ‘martial artist’ to be highjacked to refer to anyone who trains to fight, the difference between the two terms is being eroded. You are right – pieces of the same elephant but unfortunately many people think they’re holding a giraffe. I am grateful that there are people like you out here directing and reminding people that it is an elephant.


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