Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Toes Across The Floor

I was listening to "Toes across the floor" by Blind Melon and it, for some reason reminded me of my own countess hours of karate, Taekwondo and jui jitsu practice - and recreated a yearning for those days when I sweated and toiled to find a connection with my physical and mental extremities and my place in society.

Real Karate-Do, in any of its many forms, is a discipline not easily explained.  Most people relate martial arts practitioners to the Hollywood version, or mixed martial arts battles on one of the sports channels – and even though I’ve toiled for years in the discipline, I find very little in common with either stereotype.

Karate-Do is a way of life, not a sweaty, muscle-packed spectator sport on ESPN.  These fighters have massive skills which I can appreciate, don't take me wrong, however the image they project to the uneducated public (especially young men) is that of a gladiator or a bloodthirsty pitt bull dog out for the shear love of the kill and in my opinion scar the image of true traditional martial arts training.  There is no "Do".

Do in Japanese means “ a path, or way of life” and serious study of “the arts” is accompanied by a study of living a life of non-violence and peace with the surrounding environment and according to Gichin Funakoshi, that’s the way it is supposed to be for the warrior.

Master Gichin Funakoshi was this little Okinawan school teacher, philosopher, and poet and the founder of Shoto-kan karate and he led and taught a life of peace and self-discipline.  I do not see evidence of this teaching in the mixed martial arts spectacles on television.  It appears the only side of martial arts they have studied is how to fight and this is what is being projected. Two pitt bull dogs fighting is all it is and although I find it fascinating to watch (in the same vein as watching a train wreck or someone committing suicide) it's in reality, a horrific vulgar display and does terrible damage to the promotion of traditional martial arts practice.

Shotokan is the consummate model of almost all modern karate styles, regardless of historical claims by each individual art to the contrary.  Real traditional study takes place in small dojos, kwans, and dojangs (schools) tucked away out of sight and the serious student lives a life of non-violence and peace.

Anyone who has studied any form of the hard-karate style of martial arts, owes a deep gratitude to this master, myself included.  One of my brothers (TJ Bustem) is a black belt in this style and no one to truck with, however I can’t remember the last time he raised a fist in anger.  All three of my brothers are schooled in the fighting arts, but again I can’t remember the last time any of them were violent.

Most traditional martial artists spend untold countless hours with toes across the floor, toiling in silent practice, learning to understand their physical and spiritual relationship with the earth around them and that my friend is the whole purpose of studying the fighting arts.  Self-awareness and peace, developing both the hard and soft side of your being - not learning to kick someones rear end or make a vulgar display of your ability to do the same.

The study of the fighting arts according to Master Funakoshi was for personal development, not necessarily for violence.

1 comment:

Steve Liles said...

Nice read Bert. I took taekwando in my early teens and came out with discipline back then. Never had to use it fully outside matches. It seems I also found how to diffuse rather than elevate situations. I agree totally with your blog.

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