9 May 16
“‘Courage’ isn’t having the strength to go on. It is going on when all strength has deserted you”
I talked with several prestigious golf instructors today, and we discussed similarities between the Arts we teach and advance.
Many young golfers are able to produce acceptable drives via muscle alone. In the same way, husky martial arts students are able to make techniques “work” by muscling their way through. They can thus get the false impression that they have mastered the technique, particularly when working with a small, weak, or compliant sparring partner.
Tiger Woods experienced the highpoint of his professional golfing career when he was a lanky, skinny, unassuming kid. As he “bulked-up” and became “important,” his game declined, and never came back. Today’s top golf professionals are anything but “muscle men.” They’ve learned to precisely derive power and accuracy from technique, not brawn.
In the same way, many “accomplished” martial artists, who are accustomed to demonstrating their acumen on weak, compliant students, are rudely surprised when they try the same thing on strong, tough, experienced opponents who have no compunction about calling their bluff!
That day, they are painfully confronted with the fact that they never learned the technique correctly to begin with. Their knowledge and skill are superficial. Their strength actually got in their way, because they relied on it too routinely, and defaulted to it too soon. Strength invariably masked the precision necessary for them to actually “see” and realize what makes the move (that they never really learned) so effective.
In fighting with guns, unlike most other martial arts, we don’t “empower” the bullet in any way. It goes the same speed, no matter how hard we squeeze the grip of the weapon, nor how we hold our tongue! As in all other martial arts, we have to carefully learn correct technique- for holding the weapon, stance, using sights, and running triggers. None of it is particularly strength-dependant, nor even strength related!
Like playing the piano, a moment to “learn,” a lifetime to perfect!
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), founder of Akido, seldom described his Art as something used to overpower or hurt an opponent. He described it as “… The Way of harmonious spirit,” or words to that effect.
As spiritual descendants of Ueshiba, and other martial arts icons through the centuries, we modern Operators refine and advance our Art with the intention of training ourselves and our students to be humble servants and protectors of all that is good in the world. In so doing, we discover that raw strength is seldom helpful. In physically correcting our unenlightened opponents, as in playing golf, billiards, poker, et al, we learn to seek-out and rely on the True Way, not so much on our own strength.
As Napoléon so correctly observed, when your strength is gone, the real “you” that remains, the “you” that really is you, had better be sufficient in every way necessary to produce victory!
“People often say that this or that person has not yet ‘found himself.’ But, ‘self ‘is not something one ‘finds.’ It is something one creates.”