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Double edged sword

by George Mattson

The Double Edged Sword of the Martial Arts

From my friend Terry Bryad. Martial art philosophy that I speak of often.

In traditional Japanese and Okinawan martial arts they talk about Karate-Do and Karate-Jitsu. The emphasis of Karate-Do is that it is all about developing character, honor and integrity of the participant, the old “it doesn’t matter if you win or loose, it’s how you play the game that counts”.

Karate-Jitsu on the other hand, is all about the effectiveness of the technique or the ultimate purpose of a warrior’s art is to destroy his or her enemy. These techniques are designed to be used in defense of yourself, your family or your country, and are too serious to play with.

Over the last 40 plus years that I have been teaching I find that different aspects of the martial arts appeal to different people and at different time. For example, I find that kids love to play and seem to like competing in sport karate at tournaments while many older people could care less about competing for a medal or trophy. Individuals that are in law enforcement or serving in the military tend to really focus on what really works and less on sport type training.

I also think that for each one of us has different needs depending on the circumstances. On a day to day basis, learning to be a better citizen and using the art to relieve stress, staying focused on the positive and keeping our body healthy may indeed be the best focus in our training. However, if we find ourselves in the street and all of a sudden are attacked, then the use of our training takes an immediate turn towards effectiveness of technique. In traditional thinking, karate training is for the surprise attack on the street, not for escalation of conflict or mutually agreed upon combat.

As instructors, it is important that we always see our student’s training for what they want to get out of it, and not the training that we love for ourselves. Like the double edged sword, the usefulness of the training can be used for good or evil. A sharp knife in the hands of a madman can kill, while in the hands of a skilled surgeon it can save lives. The ability of martial art training can save and enhance the practitioner in many ways. Some it’s the Self Discipline, for another it is the Self Defense. Teaching a classical system that emphasizes Life Skills is desperately needed in today’s society.

As the leader there is another side of the double edged sword concept and that is exploring the other side. We don’t always look at one side or the other, but need to explore the other side for true understanding. For example, you encounter a failure in your life and you quickly feel despair because you make a bad decision. Well, you need to explore the good as well. What did you learn from the experience, what changes will I implement next time this situation happens, etc. Once you learn this concept, you begin to understand the old statement, “When you pick up one end of the stick, you also pick up the other end.” Knowing all the ripples that are caused by our thoughts and actions, and then making decisions based on those future consequences, is what separates the warrior form the average person that simply goes through life reacting to events.

Terry Bryan

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