Monday, November 22, 2010

Re-Thinking, Maybe

I’ve written before that martial arts can never be a way of life, not for me. Then I started working on the damn book of drills and maybe I’m seeing it differently.

Of the nine sections, three are almost entirely mental: Internal Work, the Plastic Mind Exercises and Working with the World. What does this mean?

Some catch it intuitively. I think that Maija and Edwin and Kasey know what I am doing even when I am struggling with defining and understanding it.

Here’s what I know:

I live in a world, a big world full of many things. Much of the world is dangerous and almost all of the world is beautiful. You can’t separate the beauty from the danger. You live in the world and, as humans, we can separate from the world… but we can’t separate from and effectively function in the world.

Martial arts or self-defense or what-have-you may or may not be something you do for the dangerous parts of the world. It might just be fun. But at very minimum, in my mind, it must be something that you do with and in the world. Otherwise it is fantasy and separation. At best masturbation. At the worst, unpleasant sweaty addictive masturbation that you believe is exactly the same as real sex.

So it’s critical when learning this (whatever this is that I teach) that you play in and with the world. That you study the world. And because you are part of it, that you study yourself. Not the imaginary self that is constant and true and good. The fluid self that changes when you are hungry. The one that you become when you are afraid or elated. The self bleeding on the edge of consciousness and the self in the cold dark places.

Learn to see. Learn your own mental plasticity and how much you can control that: how much you can choose, moment to moment, who you wish to be.

Touch the world, taste it, smell it. If you ever need to break somebody, it will be one of the most real moments of your life.


zzrzinn said...

Some lucid, eloquent stuff there.

One constant in my practice of martial arts has always been that I am emotionally healthier with it than I am without it.

I don't know if that makes it a "way of life" or not, but it does seem to make something I should do.

Vaughn said...

When will this be available?

Anonymous said...

fucking sweet poetry. Existence exits.

Jonny said...

Sounds like something I want in my personal library :-)

I actually do think it's a way of life but not in any mystical way. Just in the fact that if I want to be effective in my training, I have to train hard. To train hard, I have to eat right, get good sleep, try to avoid stress as much as is possible in this world. Then there are the simple things that can keep you out of hassle with people. Good social skills, helping others, generally trying to be the best person that you can be. But also developing the mindset that if you need to, you can become an animal and get to go home in one piece.

All that to me sounds like a way of life and you only get it when you stop the 'masturbation' (as you call it...a good description!) and start pairing things back and training effectively.

Just my two cents worth, all comments welcome.

Maija said...


Tiff said...

Excellent post, Rory.

Would make a fantastic foreward to the "manual."