What happens if?

Questions such as what can you do if someone jumps out from behind and hits me over the head. Or what happens if I am cornered by a group of assailants, ore attacked with a knife, and so on.

Let me tell you a tale. A master of martial arts having lived a long eventful life retired to an almost hermit like life in a small cottage, the nearest village through the woods and then across some fields was some three miles away. The village elders having learnt of there famous neighbour prevailed upon him to train three of the brightest and most promising youths of the village. The three trained diligently under the master’s tuition every evening after the working day. One evening the first student arrived out of breath, kneeling he asked forgiveness in his eyes he had disgraced the master and himself. The old teacher quietly asked him to explain, the student told of his journey to the dojo, after finishing working on the farm , he crossed the fields and just as he entered the woods he was set upon by three large robbers. His years of training forgotten, he took flight and ran and ran till he came to the masters house. The wise old teacher told him that his actions in running had been perfectly correct, the old man said he was proud he had listened so well to the training, after all had the student not followed the prime rule in avoiding combat and there he was unhurt after being attacked by a number of larger men, The youth was told to go into the training hall to start his training. A little later the second student arrived, he also asked forgiveness, and told the master that just as he entered the woods he was attacked by three large bandits, he immediately sprang to action gouging out the eye of the nearest attacker, braking the arm of the second and some ribs of the third, on viewing the carnage he realised is error on using such force, the old master praised him for following his training skills, after all the student was completely unhurt from the attacked. The third student arrived and like the two before asked forgiveness, he told of being attack by three furious robbers, bandaged, bleeding and filthy. The student without thinking drew his fathers shotgun which he was to have taken later to his uncle, shooting the attackers, the old teacher praised the student for had he not defeated overwhelming odds with minim effort, and without injury to himself.

Like most such stories it can interpreted with many different meanings, changing with our personal development.

As for answering the students what happens if questions, firstly if you can run away, run away. Martial arts should make one more aware and hopeful avoid such situations. Quite frankly if someone jumps out from behind and hits you on the head there is little to be done about it. A teacher of mine was convinced he could feel the air pressure of the blow from behind and therefore avoiding the attack. We can say that your training will make you fitter and in better shape to weather an attack. The three rules are avoid being injured, avoid being injured, and avoid being injured. Martial Arts students may forget that the best way to achieve this is to run.

It would be misleading to give the impression to a novice, or suggest that as they gain proficiency it will make them into a street fighter, or capable of “look after themselves” we all have seen some student’s practice diligently for years, and still they can not fight there way out of a paper bag. However training certainly increases ones natural capability.

Quite rightly the agenda of individuals to learn Martial Arts vary, some go for physical fitness, yet others for spiritual enlightenment both excellent and valid reasons to take up Martial Arts, Others go to learn self defence all have a right to good tuition. Yet the very term self defence is misleading, to just defend must lead to defeat, was it Napoleon that said “the best form of defence is attack.

It is also true that the vast majority of students are unprepared for physical violence, a good student should not seek conflict, his training should help in avoiding aggression and conflict in all forms. Yet those true Martial Artists will have come to terms with death. Only then can one stand before severe aggression without fear or flinching, A fire must burn within giving no hesitation to inflict damage. We must be thankful that these qualities are not lying on the surface of most youths today.

Traditional weapons

It is quite right that one is unlikely to meet a sword-welding attacker, or in fact go about with a sword or spear strapped to oneself. Nevertheless there is a great deal of knowledge to be gained from training with traditional weapons. Aside from the practical aspect, there is a wealth of fascinating history.

Let us deal with the particle, why learn sword, spear or stick? There is no second chance for the looser in a battle with swords, the greatest worriers of old where swordsmen, to keep alive they practise diligently, and techniques were constantly refined. We can translate many of the sword techniques directly into empty-handed movements, using centuries of acquired expertise from the best martial artists of all time. Spear and stick have their own reticular development and a great deal can be beneficial to empty handed training, all teach strong movement with good body posture and balance.

I had purposely not mentioned knife in the above, though unlikely, it is unfortunately possible to come across a knife welding thug. However well trained you are, keep in mind that the armed attacker has an advantage, if possible the best action is to run away.

I view training as climbing a vast mountain with a massive base, the ascent can be approached from any point at the base. The higher one climbs the less the circumference of the mountain, therefore two climbers starting miles apart from opposite sides at the base, gradually reducing their distance apart as they get higher and higher, until they meet at the top, so it is with Martial arts. Differing disciplines, Karate, ju-jitsu, kempo and Tai chi to name but a few, all have approached the mountain at a different base point, and would appear to be vastly different and incompatible, yet as one gains greater understanding the differences reduce until at the top they are all the same.

The path of learning is the climb up the mountain, there can be steep slopes and long plateaus. It is a discipline to keep going however hard the climb. One may reach a long plateau, feeling that week after week, month after month there is no progress. Will and discipline must keep you going, this is all part of training. I look at the knowledge gained in my climb up the mountain, as finding bunches of rear flowers, I know that I will need to refer to each growth of flowers I find many times in my journey.

Character shows in the way we train. Let us look at the flower analogy. We know we must refer and reflect on the knowledge we gain in training, view this as reflecting on a flower, some would pluck blooms to carry with them for later study, others dig the plant up to pot, or perhaps pick some blooms and leaves to press. Each action must leave a reaction the first option to pick blooms to carry, is lazy and in time the booms would wither and die, potting the root and all is selfish leaving nothing for others, and so on. The point I am making is that is that we must constantly go back to basics, if thing are not going well in training, go back to basics. If things are going well also go back to basics, each time one should understand “see” the basics in a different light. (I go back to my flowers analogy) the more you look at a flower the more you should gain in perceptions, Shape, colour, beauty, continuation of life, (your perception is as journey of self development, unique and personal it must be left to the individual to make this journey and interpret his experiences.)

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