Here's a contradiction in my behavior: I'll fly across a continent to meet a martial artist I've only typed messages to; pick up one at the airport and feed and house him or her for the duration of stay; give up precious sleep and even more precious family time for a few minutes or a coffee with a practitioner...but have absolutely no interest in visiting a couple of local places that are considered to be incredible.
Another invitation will be coming in soon, a cyberwarrior/fanatic has just noticed that I'm located in his hometown and he's eager for me to see the fantastic, wonderful, unbeatable system and world class instructor. I may show up just to be polite, but reaching deep into my soul I'm not picking up a glimmer of interest.
What's the difference?
Simple fanatacism. In religion or martial arts, you have to voluntarily blind yourself to large sections of the world in order to convince yourself that you have the complete truth. Right and wrong changed between the Old Testament and the New ("Blessed is he who dashes the brains of the babies against the rocks" versus "Turn the other cheek"), even things as simple as dietary laws changed just within the Old Testament. Does Universal Infinite Truth change? Which leads to the common dodge, "Human understanding changes." Babies, brains, rocks- not hard concepts. Human understanding hasn't changed that much. And it wasn't a "Stupid humans are going to do it anyway, might as well turn a blind eye..." it was an instruction.
Same with martial arts. Tapping a world class athlete doesn't have any bearing on safely approaching a possibly armed murder suspect. Fighting from the clinch is not the same as drawing a weapon from the clinch or preventing one from being drawn. There are no points for de-escalating the situation in a boxing ring. Facing off and sparring someone is not the same as breaking up a fight between two convicts with seventy more watching.
So I'm eager to meet Fabien and Joe and Toma and Mike and George and Van and Bill and Robert and Tony and Cliff and Mauricio and.... They are all experts (or dedicated students) in what they do. And not one of them, not even once, has gone the kool-aide drinker route and tried to convince me (or themselves) that they know THE TRUTH.
And I'm not eager to spend my precious time with the people who are convinced that if they just show me their special new shiny thing it will somehow revolutionize over twenty five years of training (not counting weapons, military and all that stuff) and over fifteen of experience (only counting jails, not bouncing or barracks brawls or any of that).
Seriously, people- what are the odds that you are going to show me something really knew? I dabbled in muay thai when others were in love with American Kickboxing. I've played with and against Filipino, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese (of course), and European arts; civilian and military; weapon and unarmed; mystical and pragmatic. The last really new thing I remember was a Yanagi ryu technique for increasing your peripheral vision from about 180 degrees to 270. That's useful.
A couple of hours of playing or rolling or just talking is good (and I've had more better insights over a cup of coffee in one meeting with Joe Graziano than I've had in hours spent with an instructor who was wasting time trying to prove he was a "true Master"- whatever that is). Same thing: I love talking about religion, but not with people who are so locked into their tiny world-view that anything outside their experience is treated as an insult. It's just too much work to protect egos.
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