Where do I start writing about what I have learned in six decades of training and study? My childhood was spent as a military brat, learning to shoot, march, crawl and even fly (in aircraft, of course). “Reveille” in the morning and “Taps” in the evening. Everything covered by Regulations. A very disciplined and narrow life. I really didn’t understand civilians. They all appeared rather sloppy in both dress and manners. The term “military courtesy” seemed redundant. As a young adolescent, I began to take lessons in the martial arts. My training was typical of that time. It was rather brutal, both physically and psychologically. But it was information imparted orally that began to make me want to learn more. There were very few books, periodicals or any real information about what I was studying. What about the Internet? It had yet to be invented. These years, the early 1960’s, were the start of the wave of interest in Asian martial arts. As more written material became available, the organization of the material was usually threefold. The first, history of that art. Second, the authors’ understanding of why to learn and practice. And, third, the presentation of the techniques unique to that art. By the 21st century, literally thousands of books, articles, blogs, etc., had been written. Since these are written by human beings, they are full of flaws, inconsistencies, and contradictions. I am an avid reader. My martial arts book collection numbers in the hundreds, and I have read many more. All of these follow the theory of the bell curve. Some are very good, some very bad, but most are in the middle. So now we come to the purpose of this essay. As a student of the martial arts, you must read! But you must do so very critically. Some material will have a poor grasp of history, philosophy, and even technique. So how can you tell the difference between what is good and true, and what is not? Well, you could always just ask your teachers and your seniors in your art. But, as a Christian student, you have another resource. Pray. Ask God for wisdom and guidance. If you are doing this in the rest of your life, why shouldn’t you include your martial studies?
Learn the history of your art. And, perhaps, get an overview of the sweep of history and of the martial arts in general.
Think about why you are studying. Is it for self-defense, physical fitness, a family activity, or something else? And, most importantly, is it an activity that is approved by God? (Read “Martial Arts and Christianity” by Keith Yates.)
Practice the techniques of your art. But remember, “practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” So you must examine, analyze, and discover.
Wherever you are on the martial path, you will never be bored or come to the end. So, in Texas, we use an old Spanish phrase,
Viva con Dios,
(Go with God)