By 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.