Martial Arts Life #1: Becoming a Martial Arts Master in Life
What is a master? Thoughts come to my mind of Bruce Lee or Morihei Ueshiba or even more mythical masters of legends. But what does it mean to become a master? Can you ever really master a martial art? I hope that through this post, we can look more fully at mastery and how to get started on the path.
Many people cringe at the word ‘master.’ To master something means to have everything – as if you’re done, and there’s nothing more to get out of it. How stupid would it be to devote years of study to something, only to reach the end and be done with it? I think that’s the beauty of this life. It’s hard to master ANYTHING. When you think you have it all, there’s always another layer to peel back if you’re willing to put in the work and watch.
Yet there seems to be a certain class of people who deserve the title of master. A person who is ahead of the curve can educate others—a martial arts hero. Even men like Lee and Ueshiba constantly showed their openness to learn more. They were always looking for something deeper than what they already had. Yet they have been a hero to thousands, if not millions. They have inspired people to achieve much more with their lives.
So what is a martial arts master? What is our ideal? A martial arts master is both a warrior and a scholar. Both a destroyer and a creator. He is both military and a performer. He embodies both the yin and the yang of life. When he runs out of chips, he never gives up. He fights to the end. He won’t stop. He knows the meaning of tenacity much better than the best dictionary. He is that person you want by your side. But between all that fire and passion, drive and courage, he is tempered by a softer, softer side. He is “for” life. He doesn’t kill to kill. He kills to give life. Why do heroes fight? To protect the lives of those they love. They feel a love for life and compassion for others beyond the fear of death. Every moment should be valued because every moment is the most precious. The martial arts master understands that this is the only moment we have. With the spirit of a true artist of life, he feels gratitude for the life force that flows through his body. He lives COMPLETELY, in touch with himself. He lives openly and fearlessly.
It is very easy for us to find role models to inspire us in this day and age. We need to turn on the TV. And the martial arts master is all over the media. The Last Samarai is, in my eyes, a perfect example of a true martial arts master. Even outside of martial arts movies, you’ll find people with masterminds. These are, of course, fantastic examples. But what about someone hitting closer to home? Who in your life do you notice as a master of martial arts? Is it your instructor? Is it your brother or sister? Is it a good friend? Is it a mentor? And you? Can YOU be your own best hero – your own best example of who you want to be (and are)? Can you grab your journal and be in awe of the person who has done so much and fought for so much? What about other people? Are you a hero to others? Do you aspire to educate and inspire people to live a higher life? Are you looking to get or to give in life?
The first exercise I would recommend is to write down 3 or 4 people who inspire you. Then write a paragraph for each in which you describe why. What do they bring to the world and you? Just having this awareness can help you establish your values and ideals.
Through this blog, I want to watch this martial arts master constantly. I will take him as my guide. I want to get into him and dissect what makes him who he is. Then, using the information gathered, I want to explore ways to integrate him into our own lives. The three main areas in which I will explore the martial arts master are:
* how he relates to himself (mind and body)
* how he relates to others
* how he relates to his environment and the world
During this exploration, we will discuss topics such as:
Developing a warrior’s attitude * Developing a warrior’s body through fitness and nutrition
* Finding our true selves
* Being real with others and with the moment
* Respect and appreciation for others
* Honor and integrity
* Sharing our lives by a purpose
to live * Create in life as well as destroy in life
* etc., etc., and much more, etc.
Will these messages benefit you?
Are you a practicing martial artist? Do you love martial arts but are not currently training for some reason? Do you love martial arts ideals without any interest in training? Then yes, these posts are for you.
So now that we have defined our ideal – our “master” – let’s look at our journey. How do we approach our process of discovery and development? The martial arts are the perfect vehicle for growth and self-discovery. You reveal yourself on the training mat. It’s life under a microscope, and not just how you train is how you fight. It’s how you live. In the dojo, your fears, your insecurities, your ego, your strengths and weaknesses, your work ethic, how you interact with others – these are all localized and allowed to be explored and edited.
In my next Martial Arts Life post, we will delve deeper into the path of mastery, unlike some of the other ways outlined for us by Aikido Sensei George Leonard in his book Mastery: The Keys To Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. Until then, keep banging your mouth — especially your own.