Friday, December 19, 2008

Martial Decisions

I've tried writing this post a few times and it never seems to come out well. This is a sentiment, a topic, that has come to me based on a few bad decisions and years of being dissatisfied and not knowing why.

I always wanted to be a martial artist. I always knew I was not an athlete. I've always been heavy, I've always been a little slow on my feet, and I've had bad joints for as long as I can remember.

I always believed that an athlete was not a martial artist, that there was somehow this divide between the two. I's seen it referred to as the Ring v. Street debate and in a large way that was the issue in my mind. I was unwilling to believe that what I was practicing, the martial art I was practicing, was less martial and more art, then I would like to believe. I refused to make the correlation between physical conditioning and hard sparring and martial applicability. I was stuck in a street mentality. I did not have to spar, did not have to compete because my art did not have rules, I refused to limit myself to what could be used in a ring and therefore my art was better, in spite of the lack of sparring and conditioning.

Then something shifted, I began to really think about what I was practicing, I began to really think about my training and most importantly I began to try and use my training and I kept coming back to one conclusion. What I was doing simply did not work. I wanted to be a fighter, and in order to be a fighter I had to stop thinking like a martial artists and start thinking like an athlete.

So the pendulum swung the other way. I enrolled first in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu then in Judo. I began to look to compete, I began to run and lift weights outside of class to improve my performance in class. I stopped thinking of myself as a martial artist and began to think of myself as an athlete.

However I have found out one interesting truth. It's a truth that should have been self evident and it was brought to light by a comment the Missus made. Her younger sister began to take Aikido, an art that I have little respect for for many reasons none of which are important at this time. She said that I "talked crap about any art I didn't practice" and this made me pause. She is partially right and it was something that I had partially realized years earlier but had not internalized. That truth is this: Not everyone is me. It seems crazy but it was really a tough pill to swallow. I look at Aikido, most Kung Fu, most Karate, most Tae Kwon Do and I see arts that are a waste. I see people training in styles that have no sparring, no conditioning and minimal applicability to a combative situation. When I first made the transition from a martial art to a combat sport I thought it was the most logical of transitions and wondered why everyone didn't have the same epiphany I had just had. Then once the Missus made her comment it clicked. Everyone isn't me. Most people don't want to sweat, want to fall, want to get hurt, want to get hit and thrown and bruised and come back for more. Most people don't wake up in the middle of the night thinking about competing. It's a sad truth, but it's the truth. So now when I hear about the Missus sister's Aikido I simply smile and remind myself that I have years to show her the error of her ways when she's just a little bit older.

Until then I'm going to keep competing and training and hoping that all the people I see streaming out of the Karate dojos never need to use what they feel they are learning.

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