Sunday, May 22, 2016

The World of Martial Arts is Changing…..

The world of Martial Arts today is not the world of Martial Arts I once knew.  Obviously, as times change our passions, the state of the world, education, jobs, etc… all change.  However, there are core values, core basics, core ethics, etc, that must always be upheld.
It is important to preface this by saying that sport form of Martial Arts is not Martial Arts.  It is one aspect of Martial Arts.  In my journey of Martial Arts, I found myself moving from one Martial Arts school to another and yet another.  This was primarily for two reasons: 

1        1.       The caliber of what is taught and level of knowledge from the Instructors has declined.
2        2.     The core values intrinsic to the martial arts world is disappearing.

Now let’s look at each of these individually. 

The first one…the caliber

Instructors cannot be blamed because over time there has been a decline in how Martial Arts is taught. 

However, it is up to an Instructor to seek out the truth.  An Instructor has to understand every detail of what they are teaching in every aspect.  Are certain techniques logical in self-defense situations or not, is one example of how to process learning/teaching.  Am I teaching situational reality or reality is another example.  

With the change in time, the expectation of students has also declined.  Therefore, curricula have been watered down, to accommodate student desires-- Immediate satisfaction versus patience.  In addition there is a  rise of interest in sports.  Therefore, martial arts schools now focus on the sport aspect of the art as the core component of training and teaching versus the art. 
Another example comes when teach self-defense.  When schools focus only on situational reality set-up as a mode of practicing self-defense, the application of the art is not known to teach/explain it for real life set-ups.

When individuals teach/learn a small component of martial arts, then each generation of students/instructors learn less and teach less.   This causes a decline.  Instructors that think Black Belt is the end cannot accurately teach, because a 1st degree black belt is simply the memorization of techniques learned in the last 2+ years.  To go beyond black belt is when learning to teach and understanding awareness comes.  When there is a need to learn a little bit of this and that from other styles, the need to go to seminars, the need to watch videos, etc, then one must step back and question the drive behind doing this.  What is missing in your training?  What is missing in your curricula?  Why are things missing…

A curriculum is not a bunch of techniques at different levels.  A true curriculum is handed to you.  It is a personal growth that is seen through repetition of technique that changes and evolves in each ranking.  For example, a break fall
        --  lower rank starts by sitting,

                ---- next rank you break fall squatting and continue the break fall from sitting
·            -----next rank, you break fall standing, and you continue the break fall from squatting and sitting.    

      And this process keeps going through black belt.  That is how one grows and learns the application of martial art techniques.

I can’t speculate this to be the situation with every school, but in my transitions from school to school, I have noticed this to be an issue.  I am very picky with my learning because I am an Instructor.  As an Instructor, I have a responsibility.  It is my responsibility to teach my best with a strong curriculum.  I have high standards for my students.  If I limit what I expect from my students, I am not being a good Instructor.  Students can achieve everything I desire if I, the Instructor believes in them and help them build on the basics to grow to their potential if not beyond it. 

The second thing I noticed, the core values….

All too often I receive phone calls of prospective students wanting to learn to fight or wanting to challenge me or other Instructors.  Martial Arts is not that.  I do not learn Martial Arts to learn how to beat up someone.  It is a far greater sense of being.  It is a sense of awareness.  It is a sense of inner peace and constant reflection of self-such that we can constantly grow and be confident in knowing that we can protect ourselves if needed but do not desire the necessity to proclaim it.  

We teach aspects of martial arts that can cause harm and kill if done wrong or without understanding. We cannot teach this without ensuring that students understand respect, discipline, responsibility, and integrity, etc.  The bow to Masters, Instructors, and to each other is a sign of respect.  Bowing when coming into the dojang is a sign of respect- all ego is left at the door.  It is a learning environment. 

Again, in my transition from school to school, I felt that I had to prove myself over and over versus learning.  That is not a proper training environment.  I believe in loyalty.  If I am going to dedicate my time to learn, to practice, to train, I expect my Master and/or Instructor to ensure that I am in a safe environment, and he/she will provide the instruction I need to learn and grow.  It is a two-way street.

In order for Martial Artists to grow completely, they must understand the core values such that they understand the responsibility behind the knowledge.  That too is why loyalty is important.  Masters and Instructors do not only teach the curricula.  They create an environment in which every student feels they can grow because the atmosphere is respectful, fun, and safe.

I see a martial arts school like a family.  This is a place where students look out for each other.  Where Masters and Instructors are individuals that become mentors/guides to help a student on their journey.  Masters/Instructors do not say here is your journey; we help guide you on a journey that is formed through training and is unique to you that never ends.

It is my goal to bring ethics and good curriculum back to the world of martial arts.  I want my students to understand the complete art so they can see their growth and learn the beauty of martial arts in its complete form.  I believe that they can achieve the goals that the Grand Masters expected of their students when the arts first began.

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