Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Martial Arts as a Practice

Over at Mountain Karate, there was a nice post on martial arts as a practice. An excerpt is below. The full post may be read here.

Having a practice is not the same as doing an activity or learning a skill set.

An ‘activity’ is interesting or pleasant or distracting or edifying or fun. We enjoy it. It might make a lasting impression, but it probably won’t. Go to dinner or a movie, play a game or go for a walk. People might take up martial arts this way. Which is fine.

‘Learning a skill set’ requires more commitment and attention. Learning to drive, to cook, to do CPR, to play music, a computer program or a sport are usually done in this way – to add a new skill to what you already know. People often approach martial arts this way. That’s good too.

Using your martial art as ‘a practice’ is different. It is unusual. It is not for everyone and you do not have to do martial arts as a practice to get something great out of it. But to make the most of it you do.

We begin to practice by recognizing the value of an ideal, a form. This is always the case in traditional arts, like music, or calligraphy, carpentry or dance. We learn the form, we imitate it, we aspire to perfect the ideal. We try to follow it as best we can every time we practice.

We fall short. We persist.  And as we do we change.  As we change to meet the demands of the ideal we become stronger and more skillful, less impulsive, less distracted, more able and more free.

We need to choose the ideal carefully. It has to be proven. It has to reward the people who have followed it – the people whose example we can see – with mastery. By their example and the results of their practice, you can judge if the practice works. If it is something you would like to use to master your own life, and make your art your own.


Mountain Karate said...

Glad to see you liked the post. We all share so many of the same issues in training. Your site looks very very interesting.

Rick Matz said...

Your post was a very good one. I hope that you become a regular visitor.

walt said...

A subject near and dear to me. From the post: "By their example and the results of their practice, you can judge if the practice works." When I first took up Tai Chi, I was drawn to read some of the Chinese classics like the Confucian Analects and The Great Learning, and I remember one day when it dawned on me that Sifu Kuo literally embodied -- that is, carried in his physical being -- the qualities I was reading about. That hooked me.

Also, the book Her-bak, by Schwaller de Lubic, tells the story of an Egyptian boy who, as part of his education and training, had to work for six month stretches in the various craft guilds. One of his mentors told him, "There is what the artist gives to the craft, and there is what the craft gives to the artist." That sort of exchange inheres in a true practice, I think.

Good food from the Kitchen!

Dirk Bruere said...

The only reason I practiced Shorinji Kempo for 37 years was because I could not master it to my satisfaction

Rick Matz said...

Shorinji Kempo looks like a beautiful form of Budo.

Dirk Bruere said...

The thing about SK that I find interesting is that quite a few of the soft techniques come in two forms. The old style, which are close in brutal and "choppy", and the newer which are more like Aikido and require more space.
Also, it gets demonstrated as an art through pre-arranged fight sequences called Embu. However in a real fight the techniques change to maximise "effectiveness". For example, you don't allow your opponent to roll out of a throw - you dive them head first into the ground.