This post is more a stream of a thought exercise than an attempt to say anything meaningful.
It popped up simply because I was thinking, and not because I was thinking of anything specific.
If it rings any bells or turns any lights on they are your bells and your lights.
You have heard me say on many occasions that the most important thing for a Martial Artist to develop is honesty.
Here we are in the run-up to the holiday season, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa pick your flavour, the time when the training numbers drop off due to demands from friends and family, perhaps even work, I was a Chef and late December is a horror show.
This is when for our own benefit and growth above all else, we need to be honest.
Q. Why are we missing training tonight?
Is it really because we are in a situation where we are not at all in control of our own lives, that no decisions are our own, that other people call all of the shots?
Why do we invent these external pressures, or if the pressures are real and not invented, why do we comply with them?
Whose life is this?
Do we make our own decisions or do others make them for us?
This would be a form of slavery and a condition that would not bring us any benefit that we would ever sign up for.
But we did sign up.
Kung Fu training is not compulsory.
So where does honesty come into it?
It is in our honesty when answering any question that is asked of us.
Especially by ourselves.
Why are we out with our friends instead of training?
Why are we shopping with our family instead of training?
Why are we doing overtime at work instead of training?
There will be some people reading these lines and thinking is Derek having some kind of a dig here?
The answer is that we deliberately choose to do these other things instead of training.
That we deliberately choose to do these other things.
Of course, we could equally ask, why am I training instead of being at the office party, or Christmas shopping, or spending time with friends and family?
This is essentially the same question.
A more challenging question would be, ‘why are we making excuses instead of taking responsibility for our own choices?
And here in late December, more than any other time of the year we are in the season choices.
Every day in this season we can begin the practice of honesty.
Or more importantly, begin to understand the pursuit of honesty.
Perhaps to establish a better grip on this we need to rephrase the word Honesty and the act of being Honest.
There is a word that has been used by countless wisdom traditions from all across the globe that fits here…
What is it to be Impeccable?
To live in accordance with the highest standards; to be faultless, free from fault or blame, flawless.
As a boy I found this IDEA mirrored in the histories I was reading, tales of the Japanese Samurai and the struggles of the Lakota Peoples of North American Planes, and of the Toltecs of Mexico.
There are many ancient wisdom traditions that equate people actively and deliberately trying to understand life as Warriors.
So what is it to be a Warrior?
To be a warrior is to be ready at all times to meet death.
Back in the late 1960s, just as I was becoming obsessed with Judo I encountered and became absorbed in the writings of Carlos Castaneda, in particular the book Journey to Ixlan, which described a journey of healing and transformation through Toltec mysticism.
The main protagonist, Don Juan Matus says…
… “A warrior should be prepared only to battle. His spirit is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle, and every struggle is a warrior’s last battle on earth. Thus the outcome matters very little to him. In his last battle on earth, a warrior lets his spirit flow free and clear.Don Juan Matus
There is only the moment we are in, to make excuses or blame other people is self-delusion and misses the point.
To be a warrior, to be IMPECCABLE does not need us to change the physical things we are doing, only the way we represent ourselves in the face of these events.
I am beginning to ramble so let’s pull it back together.
Q. Why do we do, the things we do?
- Because we choose to.
This post is not in any way about putting people in an awkward place to make them come to training.
But if you have come to training, come because you wish to learn whatever it is we offer, it is not playing, it is not fantasy fulfilment, it is a chance to learn something.
I am not trying to create a Paul Coelho or Eckhart Tolle vibe here, but there is a very real correlation between their writings and in the deeper reasons for practising Martial Art.
Come training or go shopping they are the same, and every day is a school day.