Sunday, January 25, 2009

Can you live without the martial arts?

I haven't updated this blog in a while as most of the activity has been on my christian one (Free plug!) Thus, it is odd that I choose to update at a time when I am severely injured and will be out for a good 2 or 3 months

Therefore, no better time to ruminate and reflect on that old question: What do the martial arts mean to me? But sorry, being the academic that I think I am - there's an intellectual proposition I want to make first, from a psychological and sociological viewpoint

There is notion in current society that says that it is good to have pursuits, or hobbies. But for the first time in history, we have never had as much spare time or affluence. So, this affords us the luxury of indulging in your inane hobbies for amazing lengths of time. Your basic Maslowian needs are met. So, the rest is spent in search of what he called the journey for self-awareness. Or if not, time fillers such as watching TV...

Currently, martial arts are pursued as a hobby for most people. Because you don't work in agrarian china anymore, you have your saturday afternoons to go to open mats instead of repairing the bullock cart. There is no need to learn the martial arts for life and death situations because the mongols are not likely anymore to come galloping over the plains. So, you can do it for fun and as a recreational activity

Which comes to the question: can you give it up?

Sometimes, when I speak to certain individuals, they speak about BJJ or MMA as if it is oxygen to them. They miss one session and their whole world collapses. Depression follows and don't get me started on what they are like outside of the gym. They are never outside the gym. All they want to do is talk again about that technique, that fight, get the point. It's an obsession. A way of life

What bollocks.

You will find that the majority of people who hold to this view are young males with loose social ties. If they run in a pack, they run with other of the same ilk. You are less likely to find this when the person is settled down in a relationship, married or has kids. Or they work and are involved in other activities outside. Sometimes, I hear my friend's moan when they say their wife stops them from going to training. You know what? At times, this may be a good thing.Maybe she has a sense of perspective

I think that this is a subtle distortion of the self-awareness psychobabble that is pitched through the media these days. Find your bliss. Make your self happy. Sure sounds good as a sound bite but let me know how relevant that is when you get older. When there are bills to pay. The electric company is not as concerned about you finding your self fulfilment as opposed to getting paid ontime. Time and impending mortality have a way of reinventing your personal wheel

If it's a recreational activity, you can give it up. Trust me, you won't die without it. And even if you do die, what use was it anyway if it caused your demise?

Thus, I am finding that the answer is yes. I can live without the martial arts even though I have spent many years, money and sacrificed much for it. It's not a vehicle to unlocking the secrets of the universe nor is it salvation for your soul - it's just a set of exercises. And while it was fun, it's not the alpha and omega.