By Scott Shaw
As someone who has been involved with the martial arts for virtually my entire life, I can say with authority that if someone desires to learn the techniques, anyone can make the martial arts a part of their life. But, as in all other elements of life, you must do what you do consciously. You must think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Or, you may muddy-up the waters for others.
My father was a black belt who earned his rank during his service in the military during World War II. My uncle was a professional boxer prior to World War II. Me, I began formally studying when I was six years old. That was almost sixty years ago. So, the refined fighting arts have been a part my entire life.
I am not saying that myself or anyone else who studies the martial arts, for however long, will be the perfect technician of all techniques. But, that is what I consider mastery; that is the ultimate statement—knowing what you can do and then focusing on that, and doing it well.
Something that I find amusing is that since the dawning of the age of the internet, there has been a certain group of nameless/faceless people who feel that they have the ability and the right to cast judgment on martial art styles and other martial artists; attempting to either give them props and/or discredit them, and then spread their thoughts to the masses. The problem is, who are these people who are casting judgment? And, what gives them the right and the privilege to judge anyone?
In life, we are all drawn to who and what we are drawn to. We like what we like, and we dislike what we dislike. But, most of these ideologies are based upon social programming, not upon fact. This is a subject that I have addressed in so many of my articles and books.
The problem with the martial arts, and the fighting arts in general, is that they are based upon the concept of conquest—of who can beat whom. But, this beating, (or winning), is no longer solely based upon physical prowess, as it may have been in centuries gone past. Instead, in this modern age, it is based upon who said what; based upon what lies, preconceived impressions, and misrepresentation they use to present their case.
For this reason, martial art websites and discussion groups have popped up, spewing all kind of falsities and non-facts about martial artist and martial art styles in general. Instead of relying upon facts and the truth, all they disseminate are preconceived opinions.
I guess I should write, OPINIONS in capital letter. Why? Because if you are judging the techniques and the ideologies of others, that means that you no longer have anything to learn. If you have nothing more to learn, that means that you are an absolute master. Are you?
Think about this for a moment before you finalize any judgment on a martial art style or a martial artist. Think about who you are, what you have learned, how long you have been doing it, and if you possess the right, through time and through trail, to judge anyone.
Remember, the martial arts are an art. You need to think about them like an art form. You may like a certain style of art; you may dislike another style of art, but, in either case, that does not mean that it is not art. You may like a certain style of music, you may dislike another, but that does not mean that it is not music.
Your judgment is nothing more than your opinion. Is your opinion ever a fact?
If you are judging anyone, that means that you believe you are better and more accomplished than they are. Are you? If you are thinking, speaking, or writing about them, doesn’t that mean that you have elevated them into a superior position than you?
The true artist, the true marital artist, never judges anyone. They allow each person to be the best expression of their understanding of their own reality.