The way that martial arts have been passed down to us reminds me of an old story I heard years ago. A young wife is cooking a large joint of beef and when she brings it out of the oven her husband asks why she has cut the joint into two halves. She explains that that is how her Mum showed her how to cook it. Intrigued the husband asks his mother in law why she cuts the joint into two wherein she explains that that is how her Mother always did it so she naturally did it the same. Still fascinated as to what benefit came from cutting the meat into two pieces he approaches his wife’s grandmother to see if she can elaborate as to why she cut the joint in half. He wonders ‘is it to allow the meat to cook faster or to allow the joint to brown more thoroughly?’ And so he asks the ageing granny why she cut the joint in into two. She looks at him and says ‘well you have to remember that when I was young the ovens were smaller than they are today, so I had to cut it to make it fit.’ Martial arts, particularly those using kata and forms are based on these practises of teaching techniques the same way as they were taught to you, without knowing really what the techniques are for or what they mean. It’s a dangerous practice when you think that so many novices are practising a system of combat, learning score of techniques and all without knowing what they are or even how they work!
Technique is another area I will focus on in my blogs and my personal adage is ‘we don’t need more technique, just to be able to understand the ones we have’. Students constantly seem to be searching for more techniques but this search is faulty, one of the earliest sayings I learned in martial arts was ‘one technique mastered is worth a thousand sampled’ and this is a principle that is worth following. To search for more techniques is to undervalue those that you already have, looking for new ones when you haven’t mastered the Basics yet. The student who looks for more technique reminds me of another saying ‘a jack of all trades and master of none’. You see we have the knowledge to create a workable martial arts system, its right in front of us but we ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’.
The wisdom is already before us but it is disguised as styles, philosophy, religion, sport and egotism. My reason for writing this is to show you what I have discovered in the hope that you will gain from it what you need to master either my system or the system that you already practice. Some of what you learn will be uncomfortable because it challenges your systems teaching but others you will recognise as not being able to work any other way. I hope you, like me will enjoy the results of my study and have the mindset and commitment to practice it and pass it on to the next generation without it having to be deciphered
Thanks again for reading and I’ll speak to you again soon on another subject that is close to my heart
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