The martial artist is really obsessed with looking tough and sounding tough, but does not spend enough trying to be tough.
They like to tout resumes, tatoos, show strength in numbers, and take on the persona of a tough guy… but rarely are they truly strong men, and even more rare will they actually be good fighters. The biggest giveaways are martial artists who add arts and certifications to their belts, body build, and those who teach a lot of public seminars. I have always said that the best fighters among the martial artists are those who fight in tournaments and bring their students to tournaments.
Oh, the tournament is not street, you say.
Okay, tough guy, when was the last time you got into a fight in the street?
We have a saying where I come from (as a teenager)… stop frontin’ dawg. The guys who fight in tournaments are quicker to take the gloves off and hand you an ass-whipping personally, than the dude in the muscle shirt sitting in the bleachers complaining how pussified the tournaments have gotten. This whole “nothing is worthy of my martial arts skills but an actual kill-or-be-killed-streetfight” garbage is making me nauseous, and really, it’s exposing the rainbow sticker in your back window, tough guy.
You see, fighting is a skill. You can be a martial artist and not know how to fight. You can hit focus mitts, strike tires, and slap hands till you’re blue in the face, but you’re not a fighter until you actually start fighting. This is the dry-land swimming Bruce Lee is talking about, not all those stupid drills you like to do. Well, like all skills, you use or lose. You have to stay off the internet forums, out of the magazines, and away from the seminar circuits, and spend more time in the gym training, and on the floor “skilling”. I remember an Eskrima tournament years back, when the promoter decided to hold an “empty hands” sparring division and announced it mid-tournament. There would be no winners and losers declared, no trophies, just to showcase your empty hand sparring skills. Dammit, we had KARATE guys there, and only my students volunteered. It was embarassing. See, we like to show, we like to know, but we don’t like to GO, and we damned sure don’t like to DO.
There is a saying that the empty barrel makes the most noise…
There is another saying, that the toughest men have softness on the outside because their toughness is on the inside. But the most cowardly wear their toughness on the outside, because on the inside they are extra soft.
This article is not just for the Filipino martial artist, but for martial artists in general. It is not just for the martial artist as well… it is for men in general. I can think of an entire generation of young men and teenage boys who can benefit from this lesson.
You see, we tread ground lightly so that if we were to attack, our enemy would not hear us. And there are too many for us to announce ourselves everywhere we go. It is the weak who announce themselves, because they must bluff in order to fool the ones they actually fear.
Return to basics, my brothers and sisters. Train hard, test yourself often, and walk as a warrior carrying a concealed, deadly weapon… among the sheep. There is no need to act tough when you are around those weaker than you are, IF you are really stronger. There is a saying that the real warrior rarely bares his weapon because everyone around him sees that he has it. When you have superior firepower, you enjoy a level of peace those who are vulnerable will never have. Train so that no man threatens you, and you will find that you can simply relax and be yourself. If you do not prepare for combat properly, you will always have to worry, posture and act like a bigger man, and that is no way to live.
Not just that, but you aren’t fooling anyone.
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