Martial Arts: A Teaching, A Way of Life

By Robert Carrera
Robert Carrera

Many people I know think that my martial art training is just a hobby. I continuously have to tell and show them that what I do is much more than just a hobby, it’s my life. Ever since I started my training, I have changed as a person in so many ways. For a long time I felt that there was a space, a void in my life, something missing. As soon as I started my training in the art of Aikido that space seemed to be filled. I seemed to become enlightened, completely reborn as a stronger, more confident individual. My training has also opened my eyes to an amazing, beautiful culture as well as many different ideologies. I have learned so much about the Japanese culture and have learned to appreciate the art of Aikido so much more. 

Several people I know think that learning a martial art will only make you want to fight more, just because you think you can take on the world. This to me sounds like any typical teenager. In actuality, I believe that martial arts do the exact opposite. I think that learning an art of fighting, at least for me, has made me realize that solving conflicts without violence is much more self rewarding. Solving issues without violence makes one feel like a bigger person, and gives one a feeling of self accomplishment, because it takes self control for someone to just turn the other cheek.

The great Bruce Lee taught Jeet Kune Do, an art that he said was fighting without fighting. I have come to believe that many different martial arts are the same way. Martial arts are not supposed to be learned just so you can go out looking for fights or for becoming so arrogant that you think you will never lose a fight. Martial arts should only be used in defending one’s self. As Bruce Lee once said, “showing off is a fool’s idea of glory.”  I believe that it is relevant to many of the more cocky martial arts students.

When learning a martial art I believe it is also necessary to learn the philosophy and ideology of the great thinkers from the culture. In my training I have found that the quotes and thoughts of Mr. Bruce Lee and O’Sensei to be very helpful. Without knowing the internal ideas and beliefs of a certain martial art you can never master it. Bruce Lee also had a quote that I believe is relevant: “I hope Martial Artists are more interested in the roots of martial arts and not the decorative branches, flowers and leaves.” This quote changes everything I saw martial arts to be. I always thought that the flashy martial arts were the most interesting and efficient. When I read this quote for the first time I saw Lee’s true genius and realized the true dedication it takes to master a martial art.

Many martial arts teach direct forms of fighting and emphasize the necessity of being stronger than your opponent. Whereas in Aikido we are taught to use the other persons strength and energy against them, thereby putting less strain on ourselves. Again I look at a quote from Lee as he tells a student to be like water, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless-like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put water in a tea pot, it becomes a teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”  This quote to me has been very influential to me in regards to my training.

All the things I have learned and all my enlightenment I credit to my teachers and Sensei. So thank you Sensei Dee Seabolt, Jerry Akel, John Miller, as well as my fellow students for helping me, Ryan, Maggie, Kevin, as well as my brother PJ. So thank you all for everything you have done.

21 thoughts on “Martial Arts: A Teaching, A Way of Life

  1. Sweet, Robbie on here!

    Martial Arts in my opinion is a thing that helps encompass a balanced and complete personality.

  2. Really, MM? That’s it? How…new age of you. 😉

    Is Aikido that inward looking? What about the concept of connection?

    Remember, O’Sensei wanted to change the world.

    **preparing myself for the onslaught**

  3. A concept I developed through my training was the idea that “through violence, I have learned non-violence”

    I know what I have been trained to do, I know what I can do…and i also know how not to use that power..

  4. Question, DK. Do the techniques in Tang Soo Do, executed fully, allow the practitioner to exercise non-violence? Or is the choice not to execute the technique the decision to choose non-violence?

    An argument can be made that Aikido, when executed with skill, is itself non-violent. In other words, by performing the technique correctly, the Aikidoka practices non-violence through the art.

    I was hinting at this with my riposte to MM.

  5. If you mean “fully” as in full capacity (strength, intent, technique) Then in my opinion, no. If by violence you mean causing death or great bodily harm.

    But once you understand what the techniques have the capacity of doing, you can learn how to change those techniques around so that they do not cause, at the very most, death. Take for example my Idol…Bruce Wayne travelled the world learning martial arts, in the DC Universe he is the greatest hand-to-hand combantant. Yet he does not kill.

    I guess it depends how you look at it, going back to your question Jerry, when i execute a technique fully (for example, an open palmed downward strike splitting concrete in two) maybe realizing what that technique can do is in a way exercising non-violence.

  6. Thanks for the insight, DK.

    Not to get off topic, but is Batman really the pinnacle of non-superpowered hand to hand combatants in the DCU?

    What about Batgirl? She defeated Lady Shiva.

  7. Thats true…hmm may of overstated “GREATEST”. (I’m thinking about Deathstroke right now). But he is definitely up there. He beat some guy in one of my comics who was possessed by these Martial arts “gods” or spirits of dead warriors or something like that…will have to re-read…gotta find that comic though

  8. My two cents. Keep in mind my martial arts background.

    I can see how the striking arts can lead a student to non-violence. With an awareness of the very real consequences of say, an open palm downward strike, a student can choose not to exercise that particular option in a physical confrontation. I agree that this is a legitimate form of non-violence.

    However, I also see this as a very inward type of response. Yes, the attacker didn’t have his sternum crushed. But the violence which engendered the confrontation, the underlying problem, really has not been addressed.

    This is where I think Aikido has something to offer. By executing the techniques themselves, O’Sensei believed that the attacker’s state of imbalance would be rectified (physically and otherwise).

    In other words, a Karate practitioner chooses non-violence by not executing technique.

    An Aikido practitioner chooses non-violence by executing technique.

    My opinions only, of course.

  9. I think you hit the nail on the head

    Before Aikido, in my background…if someone attacked me, they WERE going to get hurt, but by my choice, they either woke up the next morning sore…or not at all…

    But another technique that tends to be foreshadowed by the inherent violence of striking arts is the technique of the minds will to not act upon impulse, to rationalize through problems, and create a solution that does not lead to violence.

    It took me 3 years to get my blackbelt in tang soo do. I’ll admit it was fast, but it seemed to be my forte’. In that 3 years I had learned just about any and all kinds of strikes from any and all extremities. But it took me 7 years to train my mind to become, why my opinion is…of a warrior of peace. The only difference that makes me different from O’Sensei is that my martial art transcends my ideology, not my ideology transcending my martial art

    if that isnt too bold to say… *prepares for some O’Sensei Lectures en masse* 🙂

  10. Honestly, DK, I wouldn’t presume to comment on O’Sensei’s religious beliefs. He was a devout believer in the kotodama and a follower of Onisaburo Deguchi, the charismatic leader of the Omoto-Kyo Shinto sect.

    If you are interested, I can see if I can find my copy of The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido. It’s pretty complicated stuff.

    We’re fortunate, however, in that our Federation has several direct students of the Founder. You may not get the chance to discuss this with, say, Yamada or Sugano Sensei, but you can discuss this with their students, at a seminar or in New York.

    I think you’d enjoy that conversation.

  11. I think that this issue is ambiguous. I personally think that Aikido, like all other martial arts and disciplines, is a tool made to achieve a goal. In the end, a person can pervert the original intention of the tool for an unwholesome end or can use it to do good to all, it depends upon the individual. A doctor can save a man’s life with a scalple, or a theif can use it to mug someone. I don’t think Aikido is intrinsically pacifistic if you look at it from a technical aspect (as Jerry likes to point out, the basis of the techniques we use are from a system designed to break bones, cut through, and physically disable an opponent).

    It is our goal, like most Aikido schools, is to edify uke as well as nage, so an injury on someone you are practicing with is like an injury upon yourself. But if you look hard enough, you could (as I have had the distinct displeasure of finding) probably find some one who calls their system Aikido and does not share this view. I am just trying to say that it depends upon the individual using the art, not the art itself.

  12. Pingback: Choosing the Right Martial Art For You | Thailand Reviews-Everything u want to know about Thailand

  13. Pingback: UFC The Future of Mixed Martial Arts | Thailand Reviews-Everything u want to know about Thailand

Comments are closed.