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.