(This article is long, but well worth the read. It covers some important issues that may keep you and those you love safe – even alive…)
In today’s world, the perspectives surrounding “martial arts” and “self defense” are changing. Well, to be honest, they’ve been changing for years. And, these changes are not positive. So, today, I want to touch on some of the causal factors for these negative changes, in the hope you’ll be prevented from falling into their traps.
But, before I do, let me explain a reason why you want to listen: When it matters most, when you or your loved ones, employees, or neighbors are most threatened, there’s no room for negative influences on your ability. (Ability: being able to express your intention in the very moment you intend to do it. Period emphasized.) And, you don’t want to be standing (or laying) there, watching your loved ones, etc. suffer because you assumed too much. . . . .
We can say that those who fall into these negative conditions are victims of those predators who take advantage of various platforms to consume their victims, but we can also say that these victims are willfully choosing a way of life that re-enforces these negative conditions. We cannot look at the following without honestly acknowledging how one falls into these negative conditions. It’s not about pointing fingers. In order for any of us to make improvements in life we have to accept our responsibility – and do something about our condition. (And, that’s why I ask myself and others, “What are you holding onto that is holding you back? Get over it!”)
You see: When we choose to do nothing about our negative perspectives on life – not just martial arts or self defense – we choose to allow those negative perspectives to direct us. That direction of life conditions us into the person we are. And, who we are is what will come out in a fight – not the exercises we do, etc. So, overcoming these negative perspectives is a requirement for ability. And, overcoming these negative perspectives requires us to identify how we can overcome the influences in our lives that hurt us – internally and externally.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been involved in the “martial arts”, “self defense” or “fighting” for most of my life. During that time I’ve had a lot of formal training in various forms of kung-fu, kenpo, jujitsu, boxing and other systems, and I’ve met some great brothers (of martial arts) who I’ve exchanged techniques with. (Just yesterday, I visited Dr. Allen Wilson’s school in Olive Hill, KY. Great guy, teaching various forms of martial arts, like tang soo do and juijitsu.) In the beginning, while there were philosophical differences, there was respect between (what was called then) “styles”. Each style was seen as a different way of expressing similar intentions; and a good fighter wanted to understand the expression of his/her opponent in order to become a good fighter. (One who cannot listen cannot hold a conversation. They can only speak.) But, that’s changed over the last decade or so.
Today, young people have adopted a presumptuous and arrogant attitude towards other “fighters”. It reminds me of the WWF wrestlers of the 1980s. Anyway, this attitude hinders their ability to learn. (I’ve turned a couple of these young people, in their twenties, away; refusing to teach them in my school. I don’t want to waste their or my time.) An inability to learn hinders one’s ability to understand intentions of others and respond effectively and efficiently. And, as we acknowledged earlier, there’s too much at stake to behave this way (i.e., condition ourselves to be that kind of person).
What causes people to behave this way?
There are a lot of potential causal factors for this type of behavior. Too many, in fact, to get into in this article. What I will share are some shared issues that I’ve seen lead to these types of attitudes/conditions:
1.) Social Media & Virtual Realities. Yep. This has had a huge negative influence on people. And, for a lot of reasons. . . . As someone who studied psychoneuroimmunology and has a degree in occupational safety and health (among other things), I’ve studied the impacts of this on people. I’ll share some insight:
Firstly, the more one acclimates and spends time in the state of virtual reality, the more they become conditioned to that form of relationships. And that form of relations is not the same as those relations we have offline. For example, someone on Facebook can build up a large number of “friends” (a term in and of itself that means something different there than it does offline, or should). After they do this, they can post nearly anything they want, and find that there will (nearly) always be someone who agrees with them, or shows them the kind of attention they’re looking for. Offline, that doesn’t happen. While some may resolve to allow you to think they’re in agreement with you (i.e., allow you to interpret their response to you how you wish), one doesn’t get treated – or relate to others – the same offline as they do online. This creates a problem to those who acclimate themselves to online relations without exercising their relations offline. Too many today fall into this category. It is my opinion that we’ll begin to see a number of psychological diagnoses related to this condition in the very near future.
Secondly, most of the virtual realty experiences are at a minimum bodily-lazy. Sometimes they’re also mentally lazy. And, they’re always environmentally lazy. What do I mean by environmentally lazy? For example: Watch a child play Xbox or PlayStation, and watch how unaware they are of what else is going on around them. This happens in front of the game station, computer, smartphone, etc. And, when it happens around others we lose our condition to respond to negative intentions.
Does this include YouTube and watching videos on martial arts?
Yes. They do. This isn’t the Matrix, where we get plugged into a computer and magically come out able to fight. Fighting is about relationships. When you’re serious about learning to fight you’ll go out and experience relationships.
One more thing about videos and YouTube. There are things you can pick up intellectually from YouTube, if that’s what you want, but intellectual understanding and real fighting ability are two different things. In fact, in a fight we use a different part of our brain than you’re using studying that video. (Why don’t I just say it: That book, too. I know I’ll eventually get someone asking about those next.) If you’re not conditioning yourself to use the appropriate part of your brain, you’re not going to condition yourself to do anything you’re studying.
2.) Improper Representation of Martial Arts in Sports. This is seen in so many arenas; the most popular today being the UFC. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some who still embrace the sport without losing their self-respect and respect of other martial artists, but most are arrogant and presumptuous. This encourages young people to behave the same way, closing their minds to the necessities of learning required to become a good fighter, as I pointed out earlier. But, allow me to take this a step further: Fighting in these arenas is not the same as fighting on the street. There are several factors that play a major difference, such as the following:
Firstly, the emotional disposition of the people fighting. In a sporting event there’s expectations – even an understanding (through video and other forms of opponent familiarity) – of how the fight is to happen and to whom it is to take place, even when it is to take place and where. On the street none of these things are known, and we have no time to prepare. We have to be who we need to be to handle those situations, or we will fail. Consider this: You’re with your kids, or wife, or husband, or whomever you love, and three guys walk up to you to beat the tar out of you for whatever reason – make it as ugly as you can. Your emotional disposition in that situation is different than a boxer or UFC fighter walking into an arena prepared to fight a specific person – without threat to their loved ones. So are the requirements out of you to protect your loved ones.
Secondly, a street fight doesn’t have rules. There are no officials to check for weapons, or moderate the fight within a construct of rules. Now, put yourself back in that ugly circumstance you created earlier; and, consider these environmental conditions to the fight. Are you prepared to deal with that?
Honestly, no one can answer that question – or will have to live with that answer – except you. There’s no teacher out there who’ll replace you when it comes to asking and answering that every time you practice (or choose not to practice); there’s no one or thing you can blame; and, there’s no one reason you can excuse yourself. No. Nothing and no one …. Not when you choose to give into the things that are holding you back from proper conditioning.
Empower yourself to life!™
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