There is an old adage in martial arts:
“Those who have attained mastery of an art will reveal it in their every action”
While I certainly don’t consider myself a master - what is ‘mastery’, anyways? You can find some thoughts on that here - I do train a lot and have had the privilege of training with some of the finest practitioners in the world. More importantly, I have an overactive imagination and an extremely curious and analytical mind, which is both a blessing and a curse. The result of this is that I hardly ever sleep because my brain doesn’t stop turning. And this means I spend most nights up thinking about random things, which inevitably end up circling back to martial arts. And being obsessed with training, to me everything circles back to martial arts. Martial arts are the way that I relate to everything in my life – my relationships, my career, my community, my views and thoughts, as well as many random other things. If you are the same, you may find this interesting…
A topic that has been coming up in conversation and discussion over and over again over the past few weeks has been the differences between combat sports, self-defence and martial arts.
To the average person with no martial arts experience, they are often overlapping, perhaps even interchangeable. Indeed, most martial arts schools advertise all three regardless of the style they teach.
But are they exactly the same? If they are not, do they overlap and to what extent? Or are they totally different, or even mutually exclusive, modes of training?
A little while ago I wrote about why you should love training what you hate. You can read it here. I’d like to continue from there and talk about why loving what you train can be a dangerous thing. Not sure why? Then read on!
I recently published an article about why I believe that martial arts are truly the highest form of art and self-expression (you can read it here). A significant part of that article focused on the fact that unlike many other arts, which put the self and the ego on a pedestal, martial arts are founded on a strict code of conduct of positive values (respect, humility, responsibility, dedication, etc.), that are supposed to teach one to control the ego and ultimately be a better human being.
But in order to balance the equation, I’d like to talk a little bit about the other side of martial arts; the side that is not so nice, and which I’d like to tie to popular culture and male-dominated sports. And it's not all stuff you're going to like... Ready?
The last two posts (you can find them here and here) have seen me, and hopefully you as well, sit at home and giggle, cringe and frown in memory of some of the more difficult and challenging people one may – no, in fact will – meet along one’s martial arts journey. And in fact, I have been some of these at various points, as I'm sure you have as well (hence the cringing...).
Again I would like to highlight that these are not reflecting on any one person in particular, rather things that I have seen, heard and, with some of them, have been.
So get ready for the final instalment of sweaty skirmishers, devoted duellers, rambunctious ronins and scornful Samurai who make our journey entertaining, challenging and, at times, a little frustrating.
I recently wrote about some of the curious characters, of which there are many, that we may meet along our martial arts journey (you can read about them here). These stereotypes are common in most martial arts clubs, and some clubs have a culture that invites, or creates, more of one or more of the other but most of us will see - and indeed be - some of these at one point or another.
After some requests from you for more of the same (thank you!), I've added a few more to the list for your reading pleasure... or horror.
Ready for today's list? Read on!
The dojo is a great place to meet different people. It attracts people from all walks of life, and training in a very real sense is a great equaliser. Religious belief (or lack thereof), ethnicity, income, gender, age and education – those things should not effect on what you accomplish at the dojo. On the mats we are all equal and the only distinction is made based on hard work and dedication, which ultimately results in a better skill set which we then share with everyone.
But as we go through our journey, we inevitably meet some curious folk on the way. And dealing with them can be a real test of our character… So who are these strange people?
The mission at SAFE International™ is to teach real self defense skills to as many women, children, and men as possible (from 12 years of age to 82 years of age). Unfortunately we live in an increasingly violent society, SAFE™ wants to share their knowledge and experience with others throughout Canada, the United States, and globally. SAFE International™ has set an ambitious goal to teach 500,000 people by the year 2020, and they are well on their way. They are continually expanding; offering new and innovative services within more geographic boundaries.
Now that they have become the chosen experts in the field of personal protection in Canada, SAFE International™ has expanded to offer their services in the U.S. and internationally. The goal remains the same, which is to be a leader wherever they go. From the humble beginnings standing in front of a class of 20 young women, to the tens of thousands they have now taught, the focus is still the same… “Empower people to save their own lives!”
The other day I saw a fantastic quote by Boxing legend George Foreman:
"Boxing is like jazz; the better it is, the less people appreciate it”
As a person who spent most of his life working as a professional musician as well as studied music quite extensively, I connected with this instantly.
When I shared this quote on social media, a large number of the people who responded were musicians. This was to be expected, seeing as they probably related to Jazz being a hugely under-appreciated genre of music, often only truly understood by other musicians.
It also made me think of the recent speech made by Meryl Streep, where she famously said that ‘Mixed Martial Arts… are not the arts’. It made a lot of people in the martial arts community – practitioners and fans alike – angry at the fact that another artist (and in fact one of the most decorated and celebrated artists in recent history) made such a claim.
Was Streep correct? If so, what’s the difference between sports and arts? At which point does one become the other? Can they overlap? What about combat sports and martial arts, can those questions apply to these two as well? What, in a bigger-picture sense, is art?
I want you to go through the following exercise in your head:
Imagine you’d spend your 20 years training in a martial art with the belief that you’d be able to defend yourself, but have never tested it out under extreme or real conditions or outside of your dojo. Imagine you would then have someone challenge you to try it on a fully resisting opponent, one whom you don’t know and does not respect you and your martial art. You try it, and it doesn’t work. Not even close – you get your butt kicked thoroughly.
Alternatively - imagine you’d been training to compete in a tournament, and have been beating everyone in your class easily. You arrive to the tournament and your opponent, someone who is less experienced than you, beats you comprehensively in no time at all.
Are you on the path to mediocracy or excellence?
There will be special guests, demos, prizes, food & drinks, free trial lessons and fun for all.
PLUS FREE admission and FREE trial classes with Perth's best Martial Arts instructors.
DATE: Sunday July 2nd
TIME: 10AM - 2PM
More info - just click here to contact us.
Join Physiotherapist and Movement Coach Ross Field from Fieldwork Health at CAIA for a workshop to help you maximise the effectivenes of your warmups, minimise injuries in warmups and in training, and get the most out of every session!
Ross has an innovative approach and this workshop will be hands-on opportunity for you to try a few new things that you can add to your toolkit.
When: Saturday, 29 April, 12-1:30PM
Location: CAIA Perth, 341 Oxford Street
CAIA Members: this is included in your membership but you must book via the app prior to the day