Sunday, June 23, 2013
After the warring period ended in China all of the martial arts were forced to take a dramatic change of direction. With new forms of war already being adopted, the use martial arts in terms of combat began to take a back seat. Being that kung fu was always of a secret nature it continued to pass through the hands of smaller circles, but the masses for the most part, were left in the dark of what martial arts is.
On the other hand, the Beijing Opera, novels and eventually film continued to use the martial arts as a form of entertainment. Initially Chinese opera was used to tell stories of heroic individuals and their amazing feats on the battlefield. These actors and entertainers had to be extremely skillful in the martial arts in order to perform many of their dramatic events. They began their training as children and would endure many hardships that most martial artist wouldn't even have to face on the battle field. An example of an exceptional individual who emerged from this training would be Jackie Chan.
As cruel as the training was and as impressive as the movements are these entertainers were never training martial arts in order fight. Yet for the most part, all of the movements that they adopted into their repertoire were taken from techniques used for actual combat. So when you watch a kung fu movie many times you are seeing real attacks and defenses in an artificial scenario. When the human mind sees the artificial orchestration our subconscious rejects the ideas as reality.
Over the years in addition to film, martial arts styles themselves have also adopted a need to be more "beautiful" for an audience. Acrobats, gymnastics and dance have all been incorporated to give people the most magnificent show. Many martial artists who practice for the sake of entertainment have very little idea of when or how the movements are used. In my mind these films, novels and incorrect depictions are no longer a form of entertainment, but a road block for the viewers true understanding of martial arts and beauty.
In the world of consumerism "what seems good" has been labeled more valuable than truth. A modern day choreographer would say, "What works in a fight, doesn't look good on film". Being that most choreographers have never even been in a fight, what do they know about what works and what doesn't? Their ideas were based on the ideas of their teachers and predecessors who were all only training for fiction. I know that many of you fellow martial artists agree with me when I say that true beauty is in the effectiveness of the movement. We have all seen many movements that are for combat that have left us with a deep sense of awe. The audience would be left with the same feeling because their subconscious would understand this is something that they could do too.The truth will also be more powerful and more beautiful than what seems good. But sadly the truth is harder to reproduce for it can not be acted out in a film, but must be displayed by a true hero.
Martial arts is only a mirror of life and as it goes through this transition of truth to fantasy so will all things. Just as music used to be something that was designed to inspire people to become more. All forms of music used to be lead by heroes of many creeds and none of them sounded alike. Whether it was the blues, hip hop, rock, heavy metal and so on, these songs were written by individuals who believed in what they were singing. It was odd for them to sing or perform a song written by someone else. Now we watch shows with singers because they have "the voice".
Education has grown from showing people how to learn and think on their own to testing and more testing. Politics has become more interested in getting more votes than actually trying to make the country better. Our food is so loaded with preservatives that many of us don't even know what the original flavor tastes like anymore.The rate of unemployment is actual counted by the amount of people who collect unemployment checks. Once someone is no longer eligible to collect unemployment checks for whatever reason, on paper they are considered employed, thus making the employment rate tolerable on paper. If a boxer wins dozens of fights against opponents that are not threatening to his career, he is a "paper champion". Just as the reality we live in could be called a "paper reality."
Yes I know there is a reason and "need" for many of the changes happening in our society. But there is a serious danger that lies in the continual acceptance of this paper reality. In terms of martial arts, people actually believe that sport fighting is actual fighting and the most lethal form of martial arts is make-believe. What was once used by assassins and body guards is being overwhelmed with poor entertainment and misinformation. Do you believe that sport fighting is what's gonna save a little girl from an adult man? Martial arts was actually intended for the weaker people to protect themselves from the strong, not for muscle men to prove how many hits they can take. The more hits you take, the slower your wit becomes which is essential in terms of actual survival.
If people don't become aware of the truth in time, martial arts along with our reality, will go the way of the dinosaur.
What do you think will happen to music if people care more about the image than the sound? Love, which is sacrifice, is slowly being replaced with momentary passion. Honor and respect has rapidly been replaced with business achievements. Beauty is being replaced with name brands and cosmetics. In fact happiness all together is being replaced with some form of financial success. Science uses evolution which is an Egyptian religion. Data has been replaced with media and internet. Your very thinking has been replaced with mainstream news and network commercials.
Since it has become more important to be entertained than to be involved, our lives have become a mere series of infinite distractions. We need to wake up with coffee, drink alcohol to dance, wear make up to be attractive and watch sports games to be excited.
With all of these illusions that we hide behind, you would think that we all hate the reality of our lives. Do we? Is coming home and having a conversation with your family really so miserable? Have we actually grown to hate the person on the other side of the mirror? Are you continually overlooked and underestimated because of the way you walk and talk?
Well maybe I am the only person to tell you this today, but I will say it again and again until it finally sinks in through your brain and into the depth of your soul. You are a masterpiece. You are a master piece designed by the Master of masters who knows every hair on your head and every thought in your heart. Yes you are different from others just as a hippo is different from a giraffe. You may not have the same desires as your friends or a figure that is popular, but damn it you are the perfect you. You have been given dominion over all things on the planet. You have a specific quest for your life that no one will understand but you.
Just as the real martial arts is far more powerful and beautiful than the fantasy martial arts, you are more powerful and beautiful than the entertainers and commercials that tell you how to live. You just have to define yourself from the paper self that is continually being created and decorated in your subconscious. We pretend that we like some things for so long that we actually believe we like them, while at the same time rejecting the the little things that make the real us. The paper you may fit in well in a paper society, but it's only a matter of time before reality comes in and cuts you to shreds with the blades of a bad relationship or you get burned up with stress.
How do we distinguish ourselves from the paper? Well it's the same as understanding the difference of martial arts entertainment and martial arts. Remember that the movements themselves are real. Just as the things that you desire in your life whether it be a house, a job or a spouse are very real things. The only true difference is the system or method in which each technique is used. How you obtain what you desire will define your character.
In a martial arts movie they will often use big and extravagant movements in order to create the idea of power. Just as we believe we need the fancy cars and large wardrobes in order to have true comfort. But real martial arts isn't about fancy movements or even about how many people you can defeat. Its about spending enough time with yourself that you can accept who you truly are in the most honest fashion.
When you practice your techniques daily you will first have lots of doubts in your mind. Is my movement correct? Was that punch fast enough? Is my weight in the right place? After enough time passes you stop hearing the questions and begin to become your technique. The seasons change around you and you may become more aware of your progress. But even when progress is not evident you come into an understanding of what your doing. The things that used to be so important have suddenly thinned into something of a superficial substance. On every good day or bad day you are still practicing the same techniques as you enter into a reality that only you understand. Something substantial but invisible to the eye and unexplainable to your even your closest friends.
Your desires are nothing different in bringing them to reality. You must first remove any goal that is related to a physical gain because they mostly tend to be distractions. It's the same as doing martial arts only to get a black belt. Once you get your belt...you will surely quit. Don't focus on weight loss, more money or anything that would appear to have an artificial ending. Your soul is eternal because you are the breath of God and these paper goals will only act as excuses or obstacles for the next step in your journey. Whatever your desire is, you must allow yourself time to fall in love with the process.
It may be something that you have no talent for. It may be something that makes no financial sense. It can likely be something that few to no people have done. But it is something that continues to whisper quietly to you when you are calm. Why don't you draw? Don't you want to learn a language? Maybe I should just do things differently.
Don't worry about the direction of these ideas. Jesus said don't worry about tomorrow. You won't know what step two is until you begin step one. These true dreams will surprise you just as much as everyone else when you get going. This single desire may spawn into many, and the many back into one. Explore all of the options that you are called to and let them sculpt you into your true image.
This is the very point of your existence so you honestly have nothing to lose. You will either suffer your whole life for chasing your dream or suffer your whole life for not chasing your dream. But your dream is the only reality that matters for it is the compass that God has given you for your joy. Don't focus on what you will obtain, but on who you will become. And you will become a magnet for the material things that you specifically need. If you seek companionship don't go to the club, go to your path and find the one that counts.
Let go of all the artificial necessities long enough to grip your own identity. It's fine to dress up and party...in fact I recommend a good dose of regular fun and relaxation. The first miracle of Jesus was to turn water into wine. Does this sound like a man who doesn't want to get the party started? But you shouldn't be afraid to be with yourself in a quiet room. You shouldn't be embarrassed to look in the mirror without makeup. You shouldn't be bored cause there is nothing on TV. Don't be scared to stand up just because everyone is sitting down. Don't listen to the paper opinions of the confused people around you. The truth may be unusual, but it will certainly set you free.