This is the next-to-last installment of the “Liberate Yourself…” series. We hope it was helpful to you by giving you something to think about concerning your personal martial arts journey!
Just kidding. But the FMA fighter is just too darned friendly. Yes, I know… Filipinos are some of the nicest, most hospitable people on the planet. However, that depends on what capacity the “visitors” are. See, if you ask guys like Pigafetta, Colonel Nakayama (the Japanese officer who led the invasion of the Philippines), and Magellan, they will tell you that the Filipino was not all that hospitable. In line with the saying, that a true warrior is to have the smile that attracts children, but a strength that makes warriors tremble, Filipinos have some of the unfriendliest ways of dealing with enemies… and as a Philippine martial artist you should learn to embrace this principle.
In other words, stop being so danged cheery and complimenting! This weekend I met an Eskrimador who told me his art was from Hawaii, and passed down through several generations, and he had a unique method of Dumog, “Panatuken” (and yes, he was Filipino), blah blah blah… STOP. See, many FMA people would let this guy go on with his story, making a donkey of himself because he obviously didn’t know who he was talking to… After a quick history lesson about who thekuntawman is, and some basic truths of the Philippine martial arts, we got into the meat of FMA discussion: application and practicality of the arts. Basically, the young man in my school was a drill master who collected videos, Youtube clips, attended seminars and learned from seminar-trained teachers. We never got around to really “discussing” his arts effectiveness, because once I blew his story out the water, he realized that he needed to come correct with me.
Again, I am not advocating being a jerk to other martial artists. But the FMA guy has too many friends, smiles too much, and has too many people agreeing with him and accepting his art without a challenge.
There we go with that word–“challenge”–again.
Yes, the martial artist cannot grow if he does not hear the words, “show me” enough. The reason I am a harder martial artist than most of you is that I do not have many friends, my ideas are not commonplace, and enough people disagree with me that I’ve had more than my share of people try to kick my ass. Those of you who have never had this kind of thing happen to you (or never accepted when it does happen) are too soft to defend your arts when the situation calls for it. Let alone, if you ever had to defend yourself. Like the tennis player who mingles but never stands on the opposite end of a court from another player, you will never really hone your skills if you don’t have someone trying to beat you. The problem with having too many friends is that your ideas are accepted by everyone, and the main point of the martial arts is to PROVE your point. How can you do this when everyone is in agreement?
Sorry, but this ain’t church. We as martial artists need opponents in order to practice our craft. Just like politicians need opponents to be good campaigners, countries need wars to build pride and patriotism, football teams need a good rival to sell tickets, the martial artist needs to have others who doubt that my way is the best. Otherwise, I end up just being a guy who thinks my art is effective and will never get the chance to know that my art is effective. If I never know how effective my art is, I will end up finding out that it is not very effective.
At what point do you stop studying and start fine-tuning? At what point do you stop putting away nuts and berries and start enjoying them? Has anyone ever met a true “perpetual student”? These are little old men and women, who live off of financial aid and scholarships and other handouts, who are well into their 60s that have never had jobs, but good Lord, they have about 10 college degrees! They can recite and quote, but don’t know enough to wipe their own bottoms. There are many martial artists–especially FILIPINO martial arts–that are still looking for that special technique or art that will make them unbeatable in combat. They have 15 Black Belts, 20 certifications, they can put on impressive demonstrations of ways to take away a stick or a knife, but they can’t fight their way out of a paper bag. Poor souls!
The martial artist must have a way of testing what they know and then refining what they know. Not adding to it: I said refining. It is possible to know too much but can’t do anything. Like many of our cross-training martial arts brothers, they do everything under the Sun, but they don’t do anything well. The introduction to the seminar to the Filipino martial arts community was the thing that killed our arts before they even got started in the West; quick and easy way to study an art without dedication or hard work. And spare me the story about how hard you train… NO ONE works hard in these seminars.
But at some point, you must settle on what you know and begin to develop that knowledge into skills. You cannot do this while attending more and more seminars, watching and purchasing more and more videos. More time should be spent training your skills to develop higher profiency (speed, power, accuracy and timing) and more time sparring to learn how to apply these skills. Classical FMA tells us that if you learned it, you know it, and that simply isn’t true. In fact, you don’t “know” it unless you can “execute” it. And my FMA learning tells me, you ain’t “executing” unless you have someone trying to stop you.
So this brings me back to the point about too many friends. Martial artists are complimenting each other on skills that they really haven’t seen or felt. They vouch for each other, they shake hands and go home thinking of themselves as warriors in a world where opponents do not exist–only training partners. I’m sorry, but in the world of martial arts, we have enemies and they don’t like you, they think your skills suck, and they can’t wait for an opportunity to take advantage of you and make you their girlfriend. If you disagree with me and think your way is better, prove it, Big Boy.
Thank you for reading my blog, and look out for the last installment of this series (coming soon!)
Btw, my book, Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months, is halfway done and will be released shortly. The book will sell for $29.95, but you can pre-order (please visit my Offerings page) by sending $19.95 to the address listed (no checks please). You will be the first to receive a copy, and receive a $10 discount on the book! Our projected date is December 2009… Mabuhay!