Thursday, September 5, 2013

3 Teachers

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.

All 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?


Stickgrappler said...

Hello Maija,

*bows deeply*

Great post and question if I have it right - asked a different way ... Why aren't there more Bruce Lee's, Dan Inosanto's, Ip Man's, Helio Gracie's, Sun Lutang's, Wang Xiang Zhai's, Morihei Ueshiba's, Kyuzo Mifune's, Michael Jordan's, Wayne Gretzky's, Leonardo DaVinci's, etc

There probably are but some choose to be low key or were unlucky not to have some break to expose them to the world. Imagine if Bruce didn't go to demo at Longbeach or get to play Kato.

Also they would need certain circumstances as well as have the dedication and conviction to keep at it for their '10,000 hours' where truths will reveal themselves to them. As the modern world progresses (done say degress) there are more and more distractions. If the person in question is not focused, determined, possess conviction and patience they may never get to that 'level' you are speaking of of your Three Teachers

Plus sometimes the person in question needs guidance from someone - that little nudge - if no access then it may never come of will take a lot longer

I may be starting to ramble - hard to type long posts via phone.

Very truly yours in the MA,


Maija said...

SG - What I am getting at in a kinda sideways manner is that I think these 3 teachers' perspective is a place we should all aim for in our training, and though yes, each has put in a great deal of thought, time, and effort to finding their way there, it makes you wonder if the process itself might be altered to make this 'view' more accessible to others?
How much is down to the individual talent? How much down to effort? How much is the influence of their teachers? Life experiences? And how much down to the METHOD we pass on knowledge by ....?
The only variable we have some influence over seems to be the WAY we teach .... the rest is up to the student and life.

Mike Panian said...

I think about this too Maija. The "Three Teachers" folks possess a unique combination of open thinking, creativity, thinking outside the box...a willingness to challenge, incredible teaching skill, the technical skill and genetics to pull it off as well as the charisma to do so without riling too many people up.

I sense in all that you talk about a desire to instill the ability to think openly in students. Me too.

I have had some really interesting conversations with students where I try to describe some kind of process....don't copy the technique...copy the approach of questioning and discovery...that sort of thing.

Some folks just stare at you. My charisma setting must not be high enough! Or my ability to aptly demonstrate or whatever...maybe I am just not one of the three.

That doesn't matter though. Its still fun to try :)

It just baffles me though that many people are willing to learn by rote. Like you, I look at the method of passing things on...its what we can actually change and affect after all.

Stickgrappler said...

Ah ok, gotcha! Thank you!!