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.

 

Forever

The temporal confines of the human existence are but man-made constructs. . .

Depending on what is happening at any given moment in our lives, a single instant can feel as an eternity – both a gloriously utopian endlessness, or a perpetual hell.

Let not the prospect of enduring some abhorrent permanence frighten you, though… We DO have some choice in the matter.  (Certainly the White Rabbit would say we do)!

Regardless of our situation, or the fervid pursuit your deepest fears make upon your wavering mind…we have the choice to still ourselves and focus on the positives in our lives.  (And I’m willing to bet there is much to be thankful for).  When we take a moment to breathe…to recognize we are still able to breathe…we give our system a chance to value “time.”  We can tap into the present and either enjoy the pure bliss of it…or ground ourselves in the midst of fury, allowing our hearts, minds, and bodies to recognize “this too shall pass.”

I personally believe we are where we need to be, that life is ever presenting us with gifts in the form of lessons and experience.  And though some moments are tougher than others, we find a way not only to survive…but to be stronger as a result.

Sometimes a moment is but a second in the eyes of – or at the hands of – the great clock. . .  Sometimes a moment is so beautiful that we wish to capture and bottle it whole, to cherish for every new day we are given.  Others are so dark we try to hold our breath in a prayer that it will vanish as quickly as it came…

In either case, the “deep breath” and a positive thought can help us to attain either… The elongation of the beauty, or a swift, but manageable end to tribulation.  All in one split second.

Intent and Instincts

Indeed a “Witch Tip,” but also wise words all around…

Always, always, ALWAYS trust your intuition – the “gut” is the best read of any situation you will ever have (and, you were born with it)!  And our intention will lay out the path before us – remember the phrase “be careful what you wish for,” because that is exactly what this is.  Be ultra clear with what you want, leaving a little wiggle room for the unique possibilities the Universe may see (that you do not…yet).  And trust that inner guide, for it shall ever steer you in your best direction.

Can you manifest your dreams?  Try the above and watch the magic unfold…

Afraid Of The Dark

Once upon a time, in the wee stages of life, the darkness felt too vast and terrifying to bear – my heart would shudder at the thought and I needed some external source to light the way.

And yet, as I grew older, I began to realize there was nothing within the inky blackness that had the power to hold sway over me.  For indeed there was a light inside of me that shone brighter than the sun and moon…and it is a light that does not extinguish, no matter what night…neither life…has to say.

Failure (Sometimes Our Greatest) Often Leads To Success

Failure is never “the end,” and neither it is indeed “failure” the way our mind may perceive it.  We are generally our own worst enemies and are – I am willing to bet – doing a lot more RIGHT than we are wrong.

Even when we falter and don’t reach the end we *think* is the correct one, there is a strong possibility that we are headed for a great success (part of a larger tapestry we aren’t always aware of.)

In missing the mark we learn a great deal, and for many of us those lessons stay top of mind.  Take what you see as a “failure” and focus on the good – what you have learned, and what you steered away from, may well have you rerouted for greatness.

Conquer With Peace

We must – no matter how challenging in the face of the adversary – choose peace and respect in place of anger and fists.  It is in choosing this path that we rise above to a higher vibration to reap the rewards of magic and miracles.  We needn’t ever stoop to the low levels of those who wish us ill for, if we do, we are neither better than they, nor better off…but rather left wallowing in the same poisonous misery they wish to spread.

To conquer with peace is, in fact, the brighter end for us, and the darker for them…

We always have a choice.

What If?

We are all a little too well-versed in self deprecation and leaning towards the negativity tides.

Let’s try focusing on the good all around, releasing the need to put ourselves down, and approach life with gratitude.  I’m willing to bet magic will unfold before our very eyes…

32 “Rules For Sons” (And I’d Argue, Daughters)

A long-time friend of mine recently posted this and it gave me quite a smile. Not only because I had the fortune to have been raised with the same principles (and family and friends who also observed them), but because those dearest to me inherently abide by every single item mentioned. 

The distinction of “gentleman” isn’t awarded lightly (the word itself is imbued with class, grace, poise, and dignity – aspects that are rarer, perhaps, than they should be, and that take true allegiance to be sincere.) It is a way of life whereby one upholds oneself to a rather exacting set of morals and values on a daily basis…ones we would all do well to maintain.

These – kindness, respect, common decency etc. – needn’t, therefore, be relegated to one sex above another…but remain an aspiration for us all. 

Positive Is Perspective

I could say SO much about this amazing, wonderful, awesome quotation…but where to begin!?

This was, by the way, posted by someone I’ve met in my pursuit of my passion (to help individuals with disabilities maintain a joyful, active life.) This gentleman has Cerebral Palsy and is one of the most positive people I’ve met. 🙂

We are all – as human beings – entitled to tough moments and emotions. If we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves, complain, worry, huff and puff…I’d argue that we weren’t human beings at all! Our limbic system is enough of a whirlwind on its own, but paired with the most advanced evolutionary neocortex on the planet, we are susceptible to torrents of push-and-pull internally…including the huff-and-puffery!

What matters at the end of the day, though, is our overall approach to life. That approach is founded in our attitude and behaviors – we can either do our best to focus on the positive and strive ahead as best as we are able with what we are given… OR, we can be miserable, blame the world, and do nothing to better a bad situation. (It’s like someone saying that a given circumstance is unfair when they have invested zero effort in trying to turn the tables.)

I have to say that the majority of individuals with disabilities whom I’ve had the honor to know are among the most enthusiastic, positive, and inspiring people I have met. To be fair, I’d say it is actually 100% of those I have encountered, and this includes friends I have lost to illness (such as ALS.) The overwhelmingly gracious attitude and perseverance in the face of adversity is enough to have altered my life forever – I simply am a changed person because I know these people. My DNA is fundamentally geared towards being empathetic, compassionate, and positive…but like everyone, I have my “ugly moments” too. That said, I’ve made it my business to count blessings every single day, and to see the light in all situations…even if it means I’m squinting with all my might. While I was programmed to do so anyway, I have also made a commitment to live my life this way going forward.

This quotation hit home for me because I see so many people in the world who don’t value gratitude and appreciation…and yet they have so much to be thankful for. And then I see individuals for whom life would seem to be a dark and terrifying place…and they not only thrive, but live joyfully, and to the fullest that they are able.

It shouldn’t have to take a jarring image, nor the suffering of another individual for us to “get with it.” But when human beings are exposed to the courage of those who actually HAVE the right to complain, it tends to strike a chord – for that I am immensely grateful, because it is a reality check some people need. 

Gratitude, thankfulness, happiness, positivity…they are founded in one’s perspective. They aren’t handed to us. They aren’t up to anyone BUT us. As such, that also means they aren’t out of our control.

We have a choice in how we view the world and our lives. If we make a decision to shift our lenses in favor of gratitude, that “rose color” some people go on about? It may suddenly blossom into view. . .