I have studied with quite a few martial 'arts' teachers over the years, some for just a single seminar, others privately once or twice, and some in classes over time, but out of all of them, there are 3 whose ideas and methods have held my attention.
Each of the 3 who I consider to be my primary influences, grew up in completely different countries and cultures, came from varied socio-economic backgrounds, and followed pretty different career paths. They had different life experiences, moved in different circles (on both sides of the law), and learned their skills in different settings, through different methods, and though each practiced some kind of traditional martial arts, none of these arts are shared between them.
The arts each of them studied (and each studied more than one) do not overlap ..... at all .... at least in name or culture of origin, yet there is really nothing to separate these teachers in their understanding of strategy and tactics. The terminology might be different, but each found the layer below (above?) the material itself, in the principles and patterns behind the 'stuff', and each learned to see these principles as dynamic expressions of the human condition without the 'story' of the art clouding the picture.
This is really not that strange ..... After all, Martial Arts are about human beings (minds and bodies) their capabilities and their hang ups, but what is more remarkable is the effect that discovering these principles and these patterns has on the one who sees them. It's like the urge to codify and to gain certainties goes away and the urge to force particular answers into equations becomes unnecessary.
And these guys all got to this place and see the world
from there, regardless of system or style, language, personality, body
type, or technique.
I suspect the commonalities stem from a shared pragmatism, of wanting to understand, and experimenting until a logic was found.
share a great understanding of human psychology, anatomy, and geometry,
of the opportunities in every moment, and how to manipulate the game in their favor whatever cards end up on the table.
Whether they call these cards - gifts, set ups, or never running out of angle, whether they
call a superior position - holding neutral, having a good situation, or
the golden move . Whether they 'eat the whole chicken', 'take something
home', 'fight emptiness', think 'human beings very funny', or that
smiling is a great tactic .... it's all the same ......
But I guess a more interesting question than contemplating why these guys got here, is why so many do not?