While I have warned in my blogs of becoming as arrogant and presumptuous as these athletes put on before their fights, I wanted to write this blog to highlight something of importance regarding one’s maturation in any fighting system: fellowship of martial arts, or martial artists. Proper fellowship is essential if you want to learn to defend yourself from attackers, and that should include everyone: sports-fighters, system-specific idealists, street fighters . . . You name them. Because you never know who you may face on the street or what they can and cannot do.
Over the course of my lifetime I have worked with boxers, kick-boxers, wrestlers, jui jitsu-ists (Japanese and Brazilian), wing chun, 5 animals system kung fu, various forms of karate, muay thai, taekwondo, military personnel, taoists and others whose only experience was fighting on the street or in prison. Some were professional athletes; some where teachers, masters and grand-masters; some were students; some had no formal training at all (only that taken from their life on the street) . . . . I took something of value from all of those exchanges. But that doesn’t make me a muay thai instructor, or a taekwondo instructor, or the like in any of the other disciplines. And, that is where we must remain humble if we are to mature in the martial arts.
There is a trend today to dabble in several martial art systems without completing the system; then, after competing for several years in sports tournaments, teaching the system as if one had completed the system and understands it. This has led to the presumption of mastery by the instructor and the delusion that the little taken over the dabbling-period is all one needs to know to defend one’s self. Both dangerous, not to mention unfair to their students, who may honestly want to learn self-defense.
One thing everyone (that I exchanged techniques with) had in common is that we all had respect for the other’s discipline. I don’t necessarily mean martial art system, either. I mean personal discipline. We understood that each worked hard at what they did and had something to offer in the exchange – if we opened ourselves to receive that lesson. As we worked together we asked questions – physically and verbally. We shared in those experiences and took from those lessons values that could be further exercised and applied. Some of these lessons taught us that our pre-conceived notions of combat were wrong; other times they were correct; other times we learned a new face of combat.
For example, I met a man who specialized in weapons of all sorts. His idea of combat was different from the professional boxer I had spent two years training with. One was much quicker and better equipped to use things around him as a weapon and ready to do so if provoked; while, the other was not. The result was the fight would look much different with one than the other. Had my training prepared me for that? For over five years I explored that question with both men.
Another example could be taken from the street fights that I had been involved (directly and indirectly). For example, most included the threat (and in some the reality) of multiple attackers. Did my training prepare me for that?
I am sure there are many examples you can think of as you read this. Perhaps they are real to you. Perhaps something you’ve perceived. Have you explored your limitations and abilities in relation to those things? How so? And, perhaps most importantly, where’s your mind in relation to those strengths and weaknesses? What will you do about them?
©2019 Yost Wing Chun Academy. All Rights Reserved.