It is often said that to train martial arts is to walk a path. I agree. Also, if you keep walking it long enough, it inevitably leads to self-discovery, and I agree with that one, too. One question does arise, though – will you like what you discover? No, really, not all self-discoveries are nice. The next question then, and a decisive one, is how will you deal with those unlikable findings you may stumble upon?
OK, let’s take a step back. In one of my earlier articles here I discussed authentic motives for practicing some form of combative disciplines. It is my belief, based on experience, that in such cases, even if one has to face certain less-than-favorable aspects of own personality, those situations are mostly perceived as opportunities to learn and better understand how to proceed.
But, what about those who are in it for all the wrong reasons? Are there even wrong reasons in the first place? Again, my experience is that the grand majority of people who are looking for a quick-fix, magic potion, ultra secrets that would yield invincibility, tend to fall off rather quickly and end up being rather harmless, unless…we’ll get there shortly.
There also folks who start in a martial art out of curiosity, and exhibit some perseverance, and find out along the way that they enjoy the visible awards (belts, certificates), status (titles and ranks) and/or financial rewards (as unlikely as it may be). Now, I have no problem with any of those side effects if the said trainees don’t:
a) do any teaching anyhow;
b) compromise the quality of their instruction just to indulge their liking of the above “benefits”.
I have met a fair number of former cases, but the latter…not so many. To reiterate, those who do not teach also so not cause any harm, and often just stop training sooner, rather than later, after accomplishing one of those goals. However, if one embarks on the teaching adventure, I am inclined to apply tougher criteria (not that my opinion matters, though). The bottom line is, it is absolutely fine to earn money from teaching, wear a fancy uniform and what not, as long as you are “producing” competent and able exponents of the chosen system. It just happens that these examples are very few and far between.
Finally, we come to the shady parts of the woods. The people who start out of curiosity or with unclear motives and then somewhere down the line they get all enamored with the decorum, tall tales, ego trips and what not. When that happens, the actual contents and quality of training take the back seat and the iconography takes precedence. The main problem is that such types will see as their chief priority in life to open and run a school (maybe even a chain of school, God forbid), in order to fully enjoy their pathology.