In our “fast food” society we often don’t remember or appreciate the lessons of the past. We tend to flit to the newest rage, trend or video game without much thought as to what has come before.
In the martial arts world we pay homage to the traditions and the masters of the past. We often find ourselves divided between the traditional training techniques and strategies and the more modern, techno trends.
I have to admit that I am a fan of the traditional and classical. Admittedly the technologically advanced training tools, techniques and weapons, etc. have some tremendous advantages. Still, the master’s of days gone by knew some things we don’t know. If you disbelieve that read a good translation of the “Bubishi” or see if you can find a translation of the “Bronze Man”.
If you believe, as I do, that the traditional kata had important lessons for us in terms of grounding, centering, vital point activation and ki development than we stay with them. We attempt to learn the lessons in the kata and preserve them, unchanged, for future generations. This is particularly true, in my mind, of the Hakutsuru kata that I train and had the opportunity to teach at the Tyler camp this past weekend.
The popularity of tournaments, demonstrations and “Xtreme” martial arts have made it difficult to preserve, unchanged, the lessons of days gone by but I believe it’s well worth the effort. I fully believe that the lessons of the past are still valid in today’s world.
What have you done for me lately? Nothing! We have to do it ourselves. We are responsible for examining, analyzing and practicing what has been handed down to us from previous generations and from our teachers today. It’s up to us. Our training and growth is our own responsibility.
The other side of that same coin is what have we done for ourselves lately?
Can we expect the hard training that we’ve done in the past to stay with us forever? Or, do we need to train diligently every day?
I submit that what we did 20 years ago lays the foundation for what we do today but we need to practice as if…
Practice as if you want to improve. Practice as if you want to maintain the traditions of the past. Practice as if you want to gain more understanding of your art. Practice as if your life depends on it. As I told the kid’s class a while ago, “there are no do-overs on the street”.
Several weeks ago, I ran into an old karate colleague that I haven’t seen for 25 years or so. We trained together under Kise Sensei back in the early 90’s. He was a big guy then, 6’4” and 350 lbs. He was large but quick, strong and flexible.
Honestly I didn’t recognize my former friend. He could hardly walk and has gained quite a bit of weight. He was an excellent fighter back in the day but the statement: “What have you done for me lately?” surely seemed to apply. For whatever reasons the lack of training over recent years have taken their toll. Can we train hard and then lay-off expecting that we will retain our skills and maintain our fitness level? I think not!
This weekend’s camp was a particularly good example of working with folks who train hard, smart and consistently and the benefits it brings.
“What have you done for me lately?” maybe should be read as “what have you done for yourself lately?” and “what have you done for others lately?”
Training consistently and thoughtfully day after day, month after month and year after year facilitates the journey on the path to martial arts mastery.