Saturday, March 14, 2015


I had a conversation with Borepatch yesterday. He is doing better, by the way. We talked about his recovery, about getting older, not giving in, his recent surgery and recovery, and about the blog.

He challenged me to write more about my martial arts journey, to be more personal, and to risk the occasional push back you inevitably get of "that sh*t would never work." Well, in any altercation, you can lose. You can lose if you are carrying a concealed firearm. You can lose if you field an army of half a million men with the latest equipment money can buy. So, sure I can lose, for all the training, I am older and there are plenty of guys with strength and skills I can never match.

What I am doing is shifting where I stand on the bell curve, training to be the best I can, to carry the skills, the mindset, and the will with me, whether or not I ever use it in a real world altercation. Along the way I am learning a lot of other things. What it is to practice something that is hard to master, dedicating myself to the hours of time I put in every week, the extra activities I have added to build my core strength and my aerobic fitness, the simple perseverance of spending 300+ hours a year on the mat.

I read an article by Kara Stewart about her Aikido journey. I have experienced many of the same things she writes about. But in it, she says something I want to quote:
"A few months ago, our dojo had a booth at a health fair to share information about Aikido in general and our dojo in particular to any prospective students who might be interested.
One woman walked up, scanned the flyers, thumbed through some books, and looked at the photos.
“I want to know Aikido, but I don’t want to learn it,” she said.
It took me a few seconds to realize the profundity of her statement—and the nearly universal human sentiment it held. She wanted to BE a master of something without expending the effort and time necessary to BECOME a master."
That could be true of anything. What people want is to download Kung Fu like Neo did in The Matrix. Nothing works like that. One more quote from Kara:
"Aikido is helping me learn that my progress—in anything—is up to me. Whatever I want to study in life, mastery is possible if I commit to making the effort and dedicating myself for the long term. I may never be the best Aikido student, the best horse trainer, or the best writer in the world. However, I can make the commitment to becoming the best Aikido student, horse trainer, and writer that I am capable of being. All it takes is my commitment, dedication, and practice. Lots and lots of practice."


Goober said...

The "But you could LOSE!" argument is the argument that I hear from anti-gunners all the time.

"Just give in!" they say, "trust the criminal that is assaulting you with your life! He won't hurt you if you just let him have his way with you! If you fight back, you could LOSE!"

If you don't fight back, you WILL lose. At the discretion of the criminal, your loss could amount to no more than your cell phone and your wallet, or your life. Just trust him, right?

Nothing in life is certain, but I can tell you this:

I would rather die fighting than die begging for my life.

So I learn how to fight. It's that simple.

Goober said...

You can lose if you field an army of half a million men with the latest equipment money can buy.

If that army had ever actually been fielded, then no, you really can't lose that one.

But the "copter in, copter out, win by body count" BS plan we had was NOT fielding an army.

If 1/5th of that number of men had actually been fielded in the manner that we fielded an army in WWII, the North would have sought terms of surrender in a month.

For instance, an actual invasion of the enemy country would have been nice.

This fact is why I've been so against the waging of war in recent years. War is the natural result of an absolute absence of diplomacy and politics. By the time you're ready to wage war, there should be no geopolitical reason not to use every weapon in your arsenal to win. If politics is keeping you from invading the enemy country, you're not ready to go to war - you're still in the diplomacy stage.

It isn't fair to our troops to give them massive firepower and weapons that will win tomorrow, and then tell them they can't use them because of politics. Men should not die because politicians are too cowardly to face the consequences of total war. And until total war is acceptable, war of any sort isn't, either.

drjim said...

I see it all the time in my various hobbies. People want the highest awards or license level without WORKING for it.

Brigid said...

For a while I was a pilot examiner - and could certify pilots at a very high level. More than once, when someone didn't study for the oral and failed on systems or whatever, I heard "but you OWE me this" (they were usually the ones where Mommy and Dad had footed the bill for every cent of education and training). No, I don't. I worked for it, you have to as well.

waepnedmann said...

There was a time I worked with juveniles.
Many of whom had expressed the desire to "harm themselves or others."
Their degree of freedom or degree of restriction varied on their recent past behavior.
I counseled with them about such things as "the law of diminishing choices" and the concept that freedom and safety are inversly proportional in that if they want to harm themselves or others the amount their freedom will be restricted would be directly related to the threat or action.
I asked them their definition of freedom and most thought freedom was not having to do what someone or society told them to do and not have consequences for their decisions.
I would ask "'Can you play the guitar?"
When they answered "no"I explained that freedom is the ability to "do" not the ability "not do".
The ability to "do" is earned through discipline, commitment, work, and study.
But, I was over thirty and they were all-knowing because they are sooo much smarter and more learned than I.
Pain is a wonderful teacher.

Graybeard said...

Re: "All it takes is my commitment, dedication, and practice. Lots and lots of practice."

A saying I heard once is:

Practice doesn't make perfect;
Practice makes permanent.

Practice with wise analysis, useful feedback, and application leads to perfect.

David said...

I often tell prospective students that if you begin training with the goal of "knowing" aikido, you will become frustrated. Aikido is not a destination, but a path; you can never "get there."

But then I tell them that if you enjoy learning new things, it never gets old. I am coming up on my 14th anniversary in aikido, and though I have advanced in rank and teach a regular class, I learn new things all the time. I hope that never changes.

Ken said...

"What people want is to download Kung Fu like Neo did in The Matrix."

Yeah, that. It always cracked me up how people would rhapsodize about the deeeeeep philosophotizing in that steaming pile of adolescent wish-fulfillment jive.