The martial arts world attracts strong egos, big politics and more drama than a high school play.
Maybe, someone received a rank that you felt they didn’t deserve or someone of high esteem lacks what martial arts writer Dave Lowry calls “moral stamina.” Perhaps, there’s constant gossip and you hear more about the people training than about the skills you should be mastering.
Because of this, at some point, you may feel disillusioned and disheartened. You might even have the urge to quit and think “I don’t need this drama in my life. If this is what the martial arts attract, why am I still doing this?”
That is the question, isn’t it? Why am I doing this?
Japanese martial arts have been likened to a path. As many of us know, the term “do” is attached at the end of martial arts, like Judo and Kendo, that means “the way.” This suggests that the martial arts is a journey that goes beyond the cultivation of physical skill, and hones both mind and spirit.
There are many things that attract us to the martial arts when we first begin our journey. Some pursue the martial arts for self-defense, physical fitness, to avoid boredom and even just for a sense of community.
But, there’s something beyond physical reasons that makes us return to the dojo time and time again. It’s an intangible, not qualified by how hard you kick or the belt you wear.
Something more. . .
Something deeply personal. . .
Something else. . .
It’s the calm that radiates through the dojo when you’re the first and only person in there practicing.
It’s the final breath of your kata, when you know it’s the best you’ve ever done it, but bow with the knowledge it will never, ever be perfect.
It’s the effortlessness in which someone slams to the floor when you get a throw JUST right.
It is the moments that lie between aggression and tranquility. A harmonious combination of our most animal nature with our greatest serenity that paradoxically brings us into a frame of being that transcends words and our human imperfections.
An internal stillness propelled by breath and what I call a “return to centre.”
It’s sometimes easy for our compass to become skewed in the mist of frivolous nonsense that seeps into our practice brought on by human inadequacies.
So, when you lose your way along the path, focus on the most basic of human functions, breathe and return to centre.
It’s in that moment you realize there was no trick of the light. . .
No magical unveiling. . .
And, there was no illusion to begin with.