I think I need to face the fact that I am no longer a martial artist..
Dead time here gets pretty dead. Not much room to wander, working out more then twice a day feels excessive. I like to read and lay in the sun, but there is a limit. If the internet was up, I’d be calling friends at weird hours or researching.
So in a fit of boredom I stepped into the only martial arts class going on base. The instructor is skilled at what he does. It’s a decent class and a good workout. But it’s not me, not anymore.
I used to love this stuff- the precision, the repetition (sort of) the feeling that I was learning to do stuff exactly right. Now it just all felt slightly off. Artificial.
From the very start- warm ups. I quit doing warm ups over a decade ago because, tactical operations aside, I have never had a chance to warm up before a fight and I want to train with the body I will have. It’s also an incentive to stay slightly warm and stretched constantly- doing isometrics whenever you are sitting, stretching the spine and hips in such a way that no one notices.
Then basics- there has been some degradation there. It’s been a long time since I practiced punches or kicks or “blocks” on air, in a static line, or in bare feet for that matter. After years on ballistic and structured striking and infighting, I’m slower and less precise in my basic tsukis and ukes than when I was fanatically training under watchful eyes.
I didn’t really feel like an alien until the instructor started explaining things, talking about "bad guys" and "real fights". On every single particular, he was wrong. Let me amend that, to be fair. Every single description he gave of ‘what will happen in a real fight’ or ‘what a real opponent will do’ did not come close to matching my experience.
It was hard to keep my mouth shut, and that, in and of itself is reason to go back- the double discipline of keeping my mouth shut and emptying my cup to learn something else.
It’s a balance, though, because time spent here will actually degrade my ability to defend myself unless I put it in a different part of my brain. I used to love this kind of stuff, but it is so clearly not what I am any more. For 27 years I've been a dedicated practicing martial artist. Over the last years it has changed. I'm still practicing, still learning, but what I do doesn't look or feel anymore like 'martial arts'.
So if what I do isn't martial arts, what is it and, by extension, what am I?
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