So I have not posted in a while. Not because I don’t feel like I have anything at all to say, as I am still enjoying sharing some thoughts this way, but because of two things. 1: I have been rather busy. Not totally swamped for months and months but things like visiting friends and teachers in Japan and Okinawa, work, training, and spending time with our son among others have kept me from sitting down to write much. And 2: One concern I have with this forum, like any other that is dyadic in format, is that it very easily lends itself to coming across as at least a self-perceived expert. Someone who is special.
I see this all over the net. Many people who run blogs or post regularly on Facebook can come across as if they have something they want to share it with the rest of us. Sometimes it feels more like preaching or lecturing- do it this way, you are wrong, your approach is bad, etc.. And they have something special to pass along. In some cases that is true. I see a lot of good stuff out there. People training hard, investigating, researching, developing. Sharing that stuff is great. Thank you to everyone who does! But you need to be careful, both as a reader and as an author. Because, I am sorry to say, you are not necessarily right, and you are not special.
Sure, no one else may have the connections to your tradition, or the approach to application, or the honed body mechanics, or the fitness, or the time spent doing research or cross-training, or living in the culture, or instructional skill, or one of a thousand other things. Legitimate things (and here I would not include rank, hall-of-fame status, trophies, etc.). Things that others can learn from. Sharing them can be instructive, helpful, and generous. But, and there is always a but, be careful.
You are not special. There are a lot of people these days who have spent time living and training in their art’s culture and who may understand parts of it better than you. Your application approach may be unique and very functional, but there are many others investigating and training and they may have some other approach that is excellent as well. There are other people who have fajing, martial power, excellent application, strong roots, fantastic body control, an ability to experiment and grow, and strong healthy dojo. That is just how it is.
Sure there are thousands of people, possibly thousands of dojo, out there who are training in a vacuum, training poorly, with little intent, poor fitness, and next to no understanding. But don’t compare yourself to them. All that can do is to help you feel superior. And, I will say it again, you are not. Because there are people, dojo, all over the world training hard, training well, and probably doing some things better than you. Than me. That is just how it works.
By comparing yourself to the lowest common denominator you do get some benefits. You get to know more, be more capable, have an audience you “know” needs your guidance and instruction, and perhaps most insidiously “know” you are on the right path. You can be a special snowflake. But, yes I will say it again, you are not special. I hope that does not make you sad. It encourages me. I like that there is a vibrant, if small, community of people working to grow their arts and themselves. I like being able to know less than people, because then I get to learn. I like having another reason to keep growing, and every time I see others who are pushing the boundaries of their art I am more encouraged, and often humbled.
So one concern I periodically have with the blog is that while I feel I have some thing to say that may be useful and interesting, I don’t want to start thinking of myself as special. That is too easy, and in the end just like a snowflake on a hot day, it melts away when the heat of training is applied. I hope to get some things out there to share in the near future, but if I start sounding like you all need to be following my path, please remind me, I am not…..
Thank you, Fred. Excellent reminder.
Thanks Russ. I will admit I was having a bad day and the post came out more than a little soap boxy, but I hope at least the intent came through! Next time, less preachy myself, perhaps? Cheers!