My sentiment in all of this isn’t complete, but for the life of me, I can’t seem to find a way to put it all into words. Some things just can’t be taught, I guess.
As martial artists, we spend a lot of our time training sets of techniques that perfectly fit different scenarios.
Countless hours of repetition in order to acquire the reaction, speed and timing of an all too often imagined attack that will most likely never happen at all.
When faced with a situation against an opponent, for all of the training done and developed, most martial artists don’t count, or are not well prepared, on the point of randomness.
We don’t know what attack is coming, nor when it’s coming, since most times, attacks may come in the form of an ambush.
We don’t know the opponent’s timing, we don’t consider what if the opponent’s attack isn’t close enough, or to the side enough. We don’t consider what if our counterattack misses.
This training of specific sets of techniques, without development beyond the initial techniques, as it happens a lot with martial artists who don’t progress further from 2nd degree black belts (not that it cant happen beyond that), most often lead to one crucial, horrible mistake that can clearly define the lines between life, serious injury, and death… Hesitation.
When a martial artist gets used to their particular style’s set of techniques, and believes to have mastered the style merely for memorizing the techniques and a few of each technique’s variations, hesitation is the first thing that happens when an attack comes in a form different from the imagined situations practiced all of those countless of times.
A set of techniques does not dictate mastery of a style, much less mastery of the art of combat. In reality, and even more so today, there are no masters. The arts today are so vast in application, that we could spend a lifetime in dedication to the arts and still not fully understand how to fully apply everything that encompasses our arts. So in the end, the master is he who realizes that he’s nothing more than a student.
Knowledge is one thing, but understanding is another. To attain full understanding of the way, we must let go completely of self, and materialism, we must let go of life, and become void. Only then can we truly live. A feat that few have ever been able to accomplish.
However, if we can get to understand even just part of it all, and live by it, then we will have attained, in some small way, the right to call ourselves martial artists who follow the Way.
And in this way, reach the understanding that we will always be students of life.