As nowadays there is no real, single, point to martial arts training, this musing is going to be somewhat odd ... but it's still a question that bugs me, so there you go.
Why is it that many higher level martial artists plateau and don't seem to want to explore more?
This came up because of a conversation regarding why I am so open about sharing the material I know.
My answer was this -
Because I'm quite good at what I do, in the small unfashionable corner of the martial world I inhabit, with few folks at my level or higher, and this means I'm stuck. I need to get challenged to get better, which in turn means I have to get people that are willing to play with me and push me ... which means I need to share.
This is also why I've looked outside my style to challenge myself in other fields, as there are plenty great practitioners out there who play with different weapons and different rules that can certainly help me learn.
All I need are folks that can flow and duel, and that are willing to play with me. Of course it's also nice if they are skilled enough to not injure me and have an open mind and a good sense of humor ... but those are secondary.
Doesn't sound too hard, right?
But .... I've found it over and over again, very few are interested at all.
From a womens' black belt group that invited me to join them for monthly workouts ... I thought they wanted to investigate, improve, troubleshoot, to get better ... but as it was they just wanted to get their heart rates up and socialize ..... To conversations I've had with like minded folks, all scratching our heads at why it seems our peers have no interest in mixing it up, cross training, or giving themselves challenges any more .... I mean they say they do ... but nothing ever comes of it .....
I understand that life or injury can take you away from practice, but that is not what I'm talking about, this is about folks still active in the martial arts, quite happy to sit on their 'box' of skills with no thought about actively engaging in what that box means, what it's for, if it's complete, if it needs changing etc etc.
It's easy to improve at your chosen art for quite a while, there's often systematic grading or at least some kind of indication that you are getting better at what you practice, but what then, when you start reaching the limits of where the art can take you?
Say you have completed the 'box' of material that is your system, refined it, and perhaps started teaching it even ... what then?
Can you get better?
What is it that you are getting better at?
Do you want to?
And if not, why not?