“To secure peace is to prepare for war.” -Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus 5th century.
Seems a paradox at first glance. One that tends to bring the imagination to the need for warriors to protect and serve. This is not enough to understand the purpose of warrior training. Or its own paradoxical but powerful road towards integrating the fragments of ourselves.
The elder traditions of the martial arts are inseparable from philosophy and religion in East Asia. The birthplace of Zen Buddhism is the famous “Little Forest” or Shaolin Temple of China. While the native Chinese philosophy of Taoism influenced Chinese culture as well. Both these philosophies extoll the virtues of peacefulness, compassion, and the study of the self. As well as creating skilled and dangerous martial artists at the same time. This is where the Mr. Miyagi trope comes from, the elder master who is kind patient and an ass kicker.
The pedagogy of warrior training needs to be redefined.
*I dislike the word ‘warrior’ as it has been overused in modern times to mean a fantasized ideal. To distance myself from this I will replace it with the word avatar. In this context meaning a well-balanced martial arts master in every way, an ideal. The best: body, strategist, leader, compassionate, virtuous, intelligent, kind, hero in every way. The archetype of Mr. Miyagi / Master Yoda.
An avatar needs to be a whole human being. We are fractured many times throughout our lives. From birth throughout our childhoods and onwards. Traumatic experiences are a part of the human condition. This shows radical acceptance, the acceptance of a paradox as truth.
While we do not want traumatic experiences to be a part of the human condition. We cannot change the reality that they are.
Accepting this removes dissonance. That is the key to helping understand what martial arts training is about. Removing dissonance / achieving balance.
Martial arts clubs are filled with students who share common interests, an interest that draws them to martial arts. Why not yoga?
With near forty years involved in martial arts clubs as a student, teacher, owner, and guest. Many similarities have become clear to me. Longing to belong to a group, a great fear or trauma, and a drive to change themselves.
It is a disservice to martial arts students to only pay attention to their physical abilities as a teacher. As a child learns morality by its culture. A training avatar is on a journey to look inside themselves. Mentored properly the physical training becomes a deep connection with the self that allows for deep change.
Turning palms is a movement training method for revealing and letting go of things we are holding on to. The many known benefits of Tai Chi training point to this effect. Turning palms integrates walking patterns, eyesight drills, mindfulness, body & breath training. Each meant to find dissonance within, harmonize, and let it go.