Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why train the combat arts?

Today wherever you are on the planet, we can easily avoid violent situations all of our life. Obviously we can also be confronted if its our business or if you train in the evening in shady places (in which case we know that we are not in the right place at the right time). We are no longer in a society where the exit is even a risk. Most of the traditional arts were created still remain at home could be risky if we lived in a review. Today, in 90% of cases, the assault began but was quickly interrupted by the arrival of the police or security service of some kind. Even in cases of serious physical confrontations, it is ultimately at most a bleeding nose and a swollen lip. Small urban disputes frequently lead to nervous breakdowns, insults and perhaps one or two pushes on the chest to prove that you are a man, but rarely more. Even if you cannot count on the neighbours or friends to help us in the street, we are pretty sure that if you start shouting strongly police eventually arrived. Finally, normally!

So really, why the art of combat?

I do not mean the martial disciplines as can be seen, determining if the aggressor is "the hidden heron", I do it "the thing that kills." I speak of the arts of combat, where in each practice we will research what it is to research the technique learned with partners. An art of combat, that without co-operation, we can apply what we learn to use this technique in the worst conditions. Training that can also be violent, free and anachronistic at first glance.

Why these arts when we go to every practice to put ourselves in a situation, as real as possible, where we will be risking injury? Considering the difficulty and time invested I would say that it is not only to learn to hit stronger and more specifically hit people.

What is needed to properly train these martial practices?

You must be focused 100% of the time, otherwise the punishment is immediate: it only takes one! It's like meditation, right? Except that when meditating, we tend to get lost in thoughts and there was not the "chance" take a shot to get back in the moment. In the art of combat it is impossible not to be there every second.

And if after years of combat training, as realistic as possible, we just happened to better focus on the present?

This is already a reasonable practice. Because if the training is developing the presence deeply, the conditions must apply across the life not only to the practice whatever its form. That is to say that we will acquire a presence in daily life and in dreams too. Many different practices to the same end: to give us a taste of this. Unfortunately many practices only delude us on our progress. Meditating for example, one quickly imagines the Buddha and chi kung one thinks to the complex movement of energy, but what about reality? That may be true but it may be pure illusion, who knows?

The work is the same in the arts of combat, but the illusion is only possible if trained poorly. If you train with always a co-operative partner, never having to fight, or if one trains slowly without stopping, never accelerating the movement, then we are too far from reality. The combat arts preparing for combat, it seems simple but I have the impression that few people understand this. We forget that the idea of martial arts was the idea of combat. How can we develop qualities and skills through the art of combat, if ever, with his partner and safely, is not through a confrontation as quickly and strongly as we can. If you have a correct practice, it is impossible to delude. Each error of concentration and presence will be irreparably sanctioned by a little violent shock. A little harsh perhaps? Yes but at least it is a rapid progression that allows us to always know where you are. To summarise, the first interest in working the arts of combat is to be in the present without delusion, or at least have a taste of what it means to live in the moment.

Now a second interest that is directly related to combat training. If the practice is serious, each confrontation, there will be a direct result of the violence and the fear of pain. Even between friends (in fact especially between friends) training may be the source of many bruises or worse. This fear of pain, suffering, the fear of dying. The fear of extinction, to be destroyed, no longer exist is a universal human fear. Indeed, after some time in the practice of meditation one is often confronted with this fear of the dissolution or disappearance. This is also the fear of death that is found. Addressing this fear through meditation is a solution but this is not the easiest. Any problem that directly causes reactions and brings us more quickly (if one survives the reactions) to solving the problem. If the fear of death is most often through the suffering, pain and everything that makes us think that our bodies are not immortal, we attack the problem head on by confronting our bodies and our minds with physical violence . In this practice each gesture of the enemy, our partner is a direct attack on our integrity. Each practice with weapons, even plastic, brings us back to the fragility of body and mind. Over the whole sphere we have a problem where we are disturbed, the more it will be necessary to look seriously.

In the Taoist arts that we teach you cannot push the students to fight if this is a real problem for them. Otherwise they are free to fight or not. If this poses a problem to fight, but only after a session or two you can see they are more relaxed, then it will no longer be required to continue. It is important to confront the problem only if it is a problem. It sounds simplistic but that is the program.

In sum, the practice of the combat art would place the practitioner to face his fear of death and suffering. Thus, the student himself will report his progress and will eventually accept violence as something to know to master, instead of being afraid. If you're completely involved in training and it becomes what is most important in life, we will eventually not only no longer be afraid of a possible physical confrontation, but also not to be afraid of death, the process will go even faster if we practice meditation in parallel. One can accept that the body lives and dies without appreciating the good and death in life as bad, this is one of the goals for most spiritual practices. It will still be relatively easy to believe that, through meditation, we acquired the level of understanding when this is not the case. However in martial practice, we can not delude ourselves. When the time comes for training, we arrive and you know right away if you're scared or not, and is a loophole. This may seem a little hard, but it is a means to achieve a significant result without losing too much time.

It reminds me of a phrase I love hearing before one of the first training sessions with a new student "... I do not know if I can, I'm afraid of getting hurt ...."

The fear of hurting doesn't really exist, but rather fear that person that was injured wants revenge that bothers us: is the fear of pain finally. Someone who knows how to train properly in the arts of combat can never be afraid to pain, because he knows what he does and he is not afraid of it. In real practice (not the one where you dress up in Asia, where we are on a tatami mat and where we are take on the heroes of legend), one is dressed normally and trains seriously in a good spirit. In this practice we will develop serious knowledge of the various pains and fears that can bring training without seriously injuring themselves. If you want to train very hard to get quickly to reality in the arts of combat, it is sufficient to properly protect yourself through the technology developed in contact sports. Further need to be injured. I am not saying that training really focused on the combat will not result in bruises, pain and many other problems ... But this is nothing against the interest of this practice: to be no longer afraid of death and understand violence.

How many times in your life watching a movie, or worse a scene in the street, you were frightened to the point of having the heart beating fast, a slight sweat and you find it impossible to move? Violence paralyses you?

If so, it is better to deepen your relationship to this thing that you fear rather than turn away. Otherwise sooner or later, and this you have not decided, you will need it anyway to cope. As far as choosing when it should happen, prepare in the best way within your safety and that of others. Often in contact sports we see terrible ko's from nothing. Most of the time the strikes were not seen by the enemy and were a surprise. All those who engage in combat without restraint know how a strike even if weak, but surprise you, and perhaps devastating. One of the first things we learn is to always look at what is happening, it is better to see a punch rather than be surprised. It's more fear but it is less bad!

We summarise: the practice of the art of combat not only has a taste of this but is also to better understand his fears over the ultimate ...

Well it's not so bad, eh?

One of my students, ill some time ago, wanted to stop the practice because he was apprehensive of training. Having a fear of violent confrontations, because he himself was the victim of aggression, he saw all this as too stressful. He had managed to convince himself he was doing this for entertainment and for sports. I strongly advised him to do something else because it is not good to force it, there is a time for everything. But in my heart I felt that he would return to this practice because it was a problem he had to face. After watching other classes where they were coaching sports more than practice, he came back after ten days. This is not because I am better than other teachers, or that my style is superior, although I like the concept, but because the way we try to confront our fears to make us sweat is essential. We have no warm ups, no stretching, no ceremony, no salute to old masters, only training in a friendly but serious ambiance. Quickly we realise through this practice that it is not by chance, in life there is a moment to be confronted with this.

Turn your back and death does not disappear, have a good look the fact is we know better. We are always afraid of what is not known, cannot liking what we know and that looks bad but it's different.

It is interesting to see how the fact of living in the moment and having fear are related: if one is present in the moment one cannot be afraid of death and no longer afraid of death we can more easily live in the present. Interesting!

We will develop it at another time in the meantime, good practice.

And remember: Go towards what makes you scared, the rest is boring!