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.
Actors know all two well that there is a danger in being typecast. They know that there’s a risk in repeatedly finding themselves acting in the same types of roles over and over. When they then want to appear in a different role, both casting directors, and the public at large, may not enjoy seeing them in any other kind of role than the one they had become known for.
Life is a real pain in the ass, it will kick you between the legs, the second you lose your focus. Lets be real, it will kick you in the teeth, even when you are awake, watching, and focused. Finding the still point in life’s chaos is difficult. Paradoxically the place that I train for stillness, is in the most un-still, chaotic, unpredictable experience in my life — by fighting.
It’s true that to a large extent, we are all, as human beings, shaped by our history — personal, cultural, and evolutionary. This then informs how we engage with both the practice and experience of martial arts. In short, each of us carries both our ancestors, and our own primal nature, within us at all times. It will by it’s very nature, show up on the mat. But the presence of our primal past is just one part of the story. Each of us also has the creative power of intention and choice, and we can override or redirect our biological, psychological, and cultural conditioning.