I recently read an article about the secret to Martial Arts being its simplicity. I realize that Martial Arts Training, and Martial Arts Styles vary greatly from art to art and we wouldn’t categorize martial arts a “simple” in execution. There is a famous saying that Martial Artists have found to be true. It is a quote by what most people would consider the “godfather” of Martial Arts in the United States, Bruce Lee “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.” He accurately portrays martial arts as a way of life consisting of discipline, mental focus, and physical agility. The article states an opinion of the definition of Martial Arts is: “I believe martial arts is what you make it.
Most see martial arts as a full contact sport and others see it as an art form.
I believe martial arts is the mastery of using very little to accomplish a lot.” Now that is deep. We are getting into the realm of profound thought about a simple idea. I liken it to Daniel Laruso (Ralph Machio) having an enlightened moment when he is guided to answer his own question. He is training based on the assumption that he “has to fight” to gain respect from the guys bullying him. Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) leads him to answer his own question by finally making him realize that he is training so that he DOESN’T have to fight. It is simple training to accomplish a complicated goal.
Within the same realm there is an outside group of people who don’t practice martial arts that have the belief that martial arts is violent and counterproductive to the pursuit of peace. But martial arts is not about using power or force, but using will and bravery to avoid or diffuse violent situations. Self defense is the result, but some see that as the perpetration of violence in response to violence. Violence begets violence, an eye for an eye or however you choose to define it. But this train of thought is a victim mentality in my opinion. We can not control whether someone will attempt violence on us, but we should prepare ourselves for those situations. Any other reaction would be naïve in my opinion.
When do you know you have achieved simplicity in Martial Arts? When is something that used to be complicated, broken down into simple terms for us? It is said that when you begin to dream in a second language, you have mastered the language. That may be true for martial arts. We don’t know that we have mastered something until we can detail it in a dream. We know each little nuance of our movement and our technique enough to dream about it, meaning that we truly understand it. As an instructor, I teach a technique over and over, but some kids just nod their heads and pretend to understand it. Very few will understand any technique at first glance or attempt, but most will say they get it.
When you get a new job, it is a scary thing. It almost feels like you’re faking it. You are pretending to be an expert in something but how can you possibly be an expert at a job that you just started? Even if your education or experience has prepared you for your new profession in your new office, that office is unique. The challenges of you co-workers, clients, management, ownership, etc. are unique to that place of business. It is the same with Martial Arts. How can you understand the ins and outs of something when you are learning it for the first time. Now when you hold that job for a while, you have learned something new every day. Every situation, every assignment, every interaction teaches you something. You then become an expert at your job. It takes time to do so. It is the same with martial arts. It takes time, training, and experiencing different scenarios to become an expert.
So in conclusion, we may never have the answer for some of life’s questions, but we can learn and learn to teach. When something becomes simple to us, we can then and only then, say that we have mastered it.