The Path of the Warrior: a Royal Road
In my teaching the fighting arts have a special place.
Originally, the physical part of the way has only a small part dedicated to fighting. However, the way we work is very different from what is seen in traditional martial arts.
In the martial arts that can be encountered in our modern world, there is:
- Fundamental positions work,
- Learning the basic strikes,
- technical work alone and with a partner,
- Light and full sparring.
We are, often, in a quest for efficiency in “combat”, which really means “light ritual sparring where we stay well away to touch each other.”
In my tradition, combat exercises and research are anterior to the hype of choreographed forms of combat, “kata” and others.
Yet we use those exercises for the training of beginners.
It is also a nice way to relax with gestures of martial inspiration.
Now there is the real fight, when we must defend ourselves and not take risks, respect the preciousness of our life and the responsibilities that we can have for our family: losing is not an option.
In these cases, extreme, but so real in our changing world, we must be much more pragmatic thanks to:
- the work on fear and intention,
- the work of impact and brute force,
- and everything else (techniques, speed, movement).
Above all, in our school, we will work on how to old one’s mind, one’s aggressiveness and on manage our fears related to pain.
The first thing in the fight is: “to go or not to go”.
As long as my mind and my emotions paralyze me or force me to a deep analysis instead of acting … nothing is possible!
Of course, there is no question of becoming an idiotic brute striking without reason, on the contrary, it is important to establish values and limitations after which it is time to act.
The training of those who chose the “fighting arts” will delve more in our fears, our fantasies.
It is very hard and I am always amazed by the strength of character of the people I meet: I remember how difficult it was for me too.
When we start working on the mental, psychological aspect, it is also good to start to work on force.
This is an impact force that interests us, a force to get three kinds of qualities:
- heaviness (which frightens those who receive it),
- penetration (a quality of strangeness)
- separation (to break, destroy).
The great difficulty of this work is that it is only possible with a partner, not with a bag or a wooden dummy.
We must therefore spend time not only to train to give those impacts but also to recieve those impacts from our “schoolmates”.
The professor used to show those strikes (by demonstrating) only to the students to whom he agreed to transmit.
It is something else than repeating movements in the wind.
Furthermore, overall and for most of us, it is not very useful in our modern and peaceful world.
The remaining work is the usual martial arts work: forms, exercises, techniques and “wrestling”.
In some time, the body visibly changes and fighting qualities will make the technique obsolete.
But in what has this teaching its place today?
Self-transcending oneself and one’s fears and the ability to be aware of our actions is the main search of all traditions of personal evolution: the fighting arts are exactly that!
It is a confrontation with our most basic fears and a development of attention, plus a sense of security in a stronger body.
The stress level of a practitioner of the martial way is not the same as other people, so he is able to handle stress and conflict with great tact.
All those who have tried to follow this difficult path are satisfied … It’s always a good thing to surpass ourselves and leave behind the fantasies of our strength and our weaknesses.
Knowing oneself, but through the body and its hidden capabilities: not being afraid anymore, knowing how to defend oneself physically and psychologically.
Being a frail child, skinny and weak, I see now that the energy exercises have given me health, but the fighting arts have given me the strength and confidence that allow me to teach my tradition today.
Those who are afraid should all go through the fighting arts, but it is only possible only if one wants it: do not force yourself, you have to accept that it is not always the right time to do this research.
In today’s world, with its strengths and limitations, cultivating inner strength is really needed … but why not add external strength?
Stronger, without anxiety in relationships with others, it is easier to communicate and share with others.
You have to know that everyone has his place in this way and that no one is too small, too light or too old.
The only thing to consider is the will and pleasure to confront with others to know ourselves: without this urge, we should not do it.
Do not confuse the taste for martial arts or the lack thereof with the fear that you may feel: if it is fear that limits your research, then you must forge ahead.
“Go to what is scary the rest is boring,” said Trungpa.