What Martial Arts Is Really About…

I haven’t posted in a long time, but I wrote about this recently because it was both shocking…but also avoidable…

As a Martial Artist in several disciplines, I take my responsibilities very seriously – the aim of what we do is to NOT use the physical techniques that we learn. When a situation turns sour, there is no room for ego or bravado. (I’d like to hope that neither exist for any “true” Martial Artist).

Contrary to superficial belief, Martial Arts isn’t primarily about hands-on, physical skills. The more (and I’d argue most) important tools we are given / learn are: 1) AWARENESS, 2) COMMON SENSE, 3) SELF CONTROL. It is my responsibility to employ all of these at all times (keeping in mind we don’t need to be at red-level, ultra high awareness all the time). I owe it to myself, to my family and friends, and to anyone who might be in my vicinity.

A friend, fellow (and well accomplished) ninja, and instructor posted a jarring video yesterday. I won’t share here due to the graphic nature (full disclosure, I had nightmares as a result myself), but what happened is valuable to note…and worth sharing. A Maryland woman was causing a disturbance at a Taco Bell (ranting about the service). A bystander engaged with her by telling her to stop, perhaps thinking it might diffuse the situation (fully well-intentioned, coming to the defense of the employees). The woman left the restaurant, secured a knife, returned and inflicted a severe and horrifying wound on the man.

While we may have good intentions when we engage, we might also be asking for a whole host of trouble. There is a time and place, and it is not always an easy call whether to speak up…but to get involved with someone who is clearly upset (whether slightly so, to incensed), can be incredibly dangerous – both to you, and anyone around you. This could have been avoided – there were indicators. The woman was clearly enraged, and after addressing her, the bystander let his guard down. In a normal, sane world, one should be able to, right?

It’s not always a sane world…

Awareness allows us to constantly assess a situation, and to determine our level of safety. Common sense means we learn the art of biting our tongue and steering clear, even if well-meaning (and even if we feel upset as well). What consistently shocks me is that some individuals think they are impervious to violence and accidents (you aren’t), or that getting involved will necessarily make it better (honest, kind-human mistake we ALL make).

Martial Arts teaches us that staying safe can be as simple as knowing when to avoid a situation. That might even be 95% of it. Awareness allows us to determine what’s happening, and to take the action of avoidance when required. You never know who you are dealing with – an individual may be harmless…or entirely unstable and violent. Whether in person, on the road, on the phone…wherever…second guess your urge to get involved.

The physical components of Martial Arts should be a last resort…but using our brain (our most powerful weapon) should default to ON.

Awareness + common sense ===> safety.

 

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