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Advancing Age, Advancing Skill

As a child, I wanted to be a force against brutality and cruelty. Once I started martial arts training, my entire focus was on practical defense. How do I handle the worst possible thugs and brawlers? I was never attracted to training as “art” or sport.

But after a few decades of training, I came to a sort of peace as far as dealing with dangerous people. Maybe all those years of dojo action helped me get over some things and outgrow my childhood concerns? These days, I still practice and teach a very fight-reality oriented martial art, but my training has more to do with overcoming all sorts of obstacles and unlocking inner potential.

In my 20s there was a kind of prestige implied in what we called “hard training”. We actually damaged nerve plexuses and joint tissues by hitting or twisting body targets too many times with too much force. That is not “hard training”; that is foolish “reckless training”.

There is a kind of egotism that takes over and we think we are so cool and tough. We get the opportunity to brag about our bruises and our damaged shoulders, as though that implies we are thereby guaranteed to be hard to handle in a fight. How dangerous and stupid that thinking is in the long run.

I think the most significant evolution in my martial skills is the power to make there be peace using only minimal movement. I learned how to win without sacrificing lots of my own energy. In my role as personal security escort for the Dalai Lama, I had to diffuse danger using as little overt violence as possible. Those situations gave me a chance to cultivate my observational skills and refine my physical abilities. The real growth came from learning how to read belligerent people and get them to do what I needed them to do. As I advance in age, I believe I advance in my dangerousness.

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