Martial Arts: Art Versus Reality – Part Two

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Preparing to defend one’s self may be as simple as recognizing your surroundings, holding yourself as confident and unapproachable. But, being prepared for “war” is also your personal duty in not becoming a victim.

It is said that “the greatest swordsman in the world is the one whose sword never leaves his scabbard”. If so, then our own brains are our greatest weapon.

Sun Tzu (“The Art of War”)…
Tells us that we need not win. We only need not to lose.

Often I’ve been asked what I would do if confronted by a gunman seeking my wallet and money… I would give it to him and be on my way.

No amount of skill in use of my martial arts physical actions will defeat the mindset of someone whose actions are reinforced by deadly consequences. In short, use your head. Fight the battles you must. But be smart enough to know that replacing material wealth is a minor inconvenience to an alternative where your life or that of loved ones is at risk.

Next, recognize there are those who “like” inflicting violence on others. Those who delight is watching others cower in fear. They seek to control others to make themselves “feel superior”.

Guardians of Truth, Values and Justice

Fortunately we have others in our society who actually undertake careers that benefit mankind. A true belief that they must act as guardians of truth, values and justice. Look at our police, fire-fighters, doctors, rescue workers. Many of which do what they do without compensation. Actually seeking to protect and reveal “bad guys” so as to make a better world for all.

No less than these are the men and women of our Armed Forces. People who risk their lives to protect an often-times ungrateful nation. We are preserved in our daily lives by those who sometimes never come home to parents, spouses and children. Tears of gratitude are too brief. We move on as their families struggle to make sense of that ultimate gift of life being taken. Only a few too little remembrances by co-ordinated moments of silence remain – where continued respectful reflections would best be served.

These are they who have chosen character and integrity above all else. Even as “some” in these professions have forgotten their reasons in favor of less than honorable actions.

The Student

I once had a student, I’ll call him Bobby. He had been kicked out of nearly every school in the county and had one more chance before he would have to travel outside the county to be schooled. This, all at the age of eleven. His grades were “D”’s or “F”’s. His propensity to fight anyone who made fun of him approached legendary status. Even fighting his teachers.

When his parents asked me for help, I laid down the rules. If he failed to measure up, he would not be taught. If his grades did not improve, he would have to sit and be tutored/mentored by my older students before he could take class. And, if he was in a single fight, he would have to get on the mat and “fight” me. The latter seemed to have caught his attention. I’m told I can be a bit intimidating. Bobby’s grades over an eight month period

came up to “C”’s and “B”’s. Then to “B”’s and two “A”’s. Then a phone call came from the Principal. Bobby had been in a fight.

My dread soon turned to pride. The Principal quickly added that Bobby had been attacked by three boys. Bobby did not hit anyone. One boy jumped him from behind. Bobby overcame the bear-hug by stepping low to the side, bringing up his arms, and tucking his head to his left knee. The result found his attacker flipping over Bobby’s head and onto the ground. As the two others sought to hit him he blocked and blocked away the punches until teachers watching came to break up the melee.

As Bobby arrived for class, I remained stern. I would not look at him. When it came time for class to line up. I informed the class we had one item of business to take care of and ordered Bobby to his ‘mark’ for ‘Battle.’ The students all waited to see what would happen. I could see Bobby’s trepidation as his bottom lip quivered. Nevertheless, when it came time to ready for fighting I informed the class of Bobby’s prior knowledge of the consequences of getting into a fight. He jumped into his fighting stance and yelled at the ready. I did also.

Bobby was ready to take the punishment. Without fighting I called us to end, bowing to Bobby. Letting him know proud I was of him. Then hugged the little man of now twelve. The troubled pre-teen had found that simple strength called character. He was given a course to follow and chose to accept the consequences of his actions.

Well, art and self-defense merged that day. tempered to the situation at hand.

Your Moral Compass

Each of us can choose to act or not to act in order to protect ourselves, or others. Each of us must choose to permit ourselves to be victimized or continue to fight. To not lose…

As for myself, some fear me. Some extol their faith in me for what they know to be the truth of my moral compass. Accordingly, what would you do to protect yourself or those you love? Do you recognize weakness of character or integrity in others? Do you forgive their lack of strength or honesty? And, are you willing to take upon yourself the blame for those whose ability to speak the truth will do you harm?

The physical responsive choices of fight or flight give way to the mental acceptances sometimes necessary to protect those you care about. Your moral compass is at risk. Your “Art” and “Self-Defense mechanisms must remain true to your principles, personal tenants and integrity. For if those who claim your friendship one day become your enemies the next, it is because they have chosen to adhere to principles that were never solid. Devoid of integrity, or as changing as sand dunes blown to and fro by winds most foul.

The Major

Which would you rather be a soldier or a felon? Which is redeemable to your mind’s eye? Which would you rather have come to your rescue? Does it matter? Or, have you become jaded to the concept of forgiveness? Is there a process by which you will learn not to judge?

Think of the most dishonorable act that you have committed in your life. Then ask yourself why you have chosen that path. Think of those you’ve hurt. How you have justified those acts.

In our military a man or woman becomes responsible for the acts of those under them. Thus, many a career has been ended for those whose honor demanded taking the blame – owning it. Remaining silent to the greater good.

A man came to a prison at a time when a riot was about to ensue. A conflict between races. He was asked by the group to take a side the moment he came into his dorm. He thought for a few moments as tempers flared. He chose, when asked what side he would be on, the man replied, “Jesus side.”

Stunned, the group asked again and received the same reply. That man then offered to mediate with the two groups. The riot never happened because one ’prisoner’ decided to take a stand against all the gangs and violent offenders we presuppose irredeemable.

I highlight this man because not only is he a prisoner accused of wrong doing he is also an honorable retired Army major. His honorable retirement was approved after his conviction.

He is called many things but his faith allows his courage to be tested greatly.

Our Personal Choices Are Ours Alone

My own belief is that life is like a blacksmith’s forge. Just as the Blacksmith tempers metal in the heat of his furnace, our maker is able to temper us through our adversities. So if we get caught up in the dark, we sometimes forget there is any light remaining.

Those who would seek to harm us must be dealt with. Their weapons and this includes words are meant to destroy what light we hold sacred. Therefore we must prepare ourselves as those who would do us harm. Physically, mentally and spiritually.

We must ask ourselves hard questions about what we will do before the question or situation presents itself. Being prepared for the consequences. Just as Bobby and the Major have done. For our personal choices are ours alone. No matter what others may think or profess to know. Hypocrisy comes to many who profess their greatness over others. The proof of your integrity comes from feeling adversity in all its forms. And overcoming the prejudices fear of the truth will provide.

Prepare to do battle, physically. Do not forget your mindset. For there are many who would seek to do you harm.

The quiet man is the one most able to view when to fight. The person who has already chosen his mode of conduct.