I get asked all the time what do I think about X martial arts instructor, X style or method of martial arts. With the advent of social media, I made a decision that I would never comment by ‘name’ on other people’s work in the martial arts industry. The truth is, not only have I had my fair share of people taking a short video clip that may surface of my work totally out of context, but I am well aware of the martial trolls out there that just like to be assholes. I don’t want to be one of those guys. Notwithstanding, there are so many keyboard warriors these days, some of which are proclaimed experts in the field of martial arts themselves who love to trash talk other people’s work on social media — yet never produce anything of value themselves. At the very least, if you going to call out someone by ‘name’ and attempt to discredit what they are teaching, you should offer a visual counter method of what you believe would work.
I have been having loads of discussions with my students lately before class. One topic that has come up repeatedly, is the question,
“How do I define what I do?”
For a long time, I would simply reply, “I am a martial arts coach.” But increasingly I feel this term doesn’t fully encapsulate what I am about (now), and where I intend to go in the future, or even for that matter what I really feel is the ultimate utility of the expression to begin with.
If one could go back to the dawn of modern man one would be struck by two perennial truths. In the one sense humans would seek to propagate and continue the species, and secondly there would be a need to survive. Building off that need to survive would be the leveraging of both self, and environment as means to seek personal, and collective (i.e., family, tribe) protection.
It is hard for many of us to imagine this, especially those of us who live in the relative safety and ease of the modern world. But for our ancestors, life was unimaginably harsh, filled with danger, both real and imagined. It’s not surprising then, that earliest man sought to find the best possible ways, including strategies and tactics to defend himself, and those he cared deeply about (or simply other people he needed to help him fight off the dangers he could not survive alone),
Appius Claudius Caecus, a Roman politician was quoted as saying:
faber est suae quisque fortunae
(every man is the artisan of his own fortune)
Secretly I have always had this quote in my wallet. At times when things got tough, I would pull it out to remind myself of what he said. It is as true today, as it was at the time he uttered those words.
I am a career martial artist. I am not just a hobbyist. Maybe because of this, because I have lived, slept and dreamed martial arts since I was 6-years old — my reflections on it, may be very different to most. Martial arts not only has been my preoccupation, the center of my life, but equally supported my family through making a living off something I love. I owe martial arts so much. I am not sure, had I not been so keen on martial arts, and finding a way to make it my bread and butter, how my life would have turned out for me (not so good I am certain). While I have a great education behind me now, and I have expanded my ‘expertise’ beyond the world of martial arts, for a very long time, martial arts is all I had. And I am very grateful for it.