1 million voices, 1 million opinions
For every teacher / practitioner who we will meet, we will find different opinions on every single aspect of martial arts (starting from the general terms, up to the smallest technical detail):
- Who will say that their method is older and therefore more refined
- Who will say that their method is more modern and therefore more practical
- Who will say that their method is superior because educates even mind and not only the body
- Who will say that their method fits everything for everyone
- Who will say that their method is warfare related and therefore more effective
- Who will say that their method is simple and therefore more easy to optimize
- Who will say that their method is complex and therefore that forces to develop an higher skill level
- Who will say that it is best to dodge the blows rather than resist or use trapping (and vice versa)
- Who will say it is more effective to fight focusing on grappling rather than opting for the striking (and vice versa)
- Who will say it is better to use the technique rather than developing muscle power (and vice versa)
- Who will say it is better to maintain a closed guard rather than an open one (and vice versa)
We could continue forever. The fact is that everyone has a personal view:
- Sometimes based on fantasy / suppositions (movies, personal elucubrations, prejudices, etc.)
- Sometimes based on bad master brainwashing (it is the case of the sect schools, read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics)
- Sometimes based on a single absolutized experience (“it has worked once, for me, it works for everyone in every situation”)
- Sometimes based on multiple experiences accompanied by a critical sense (extremely rare)
Everyone has his own experiences, his own reference points, his goals, his own limits and all have “good” reason to support what they say.
How to find the truth
Where is the truth then? What should we accept or refuse? Who should we believe?
After listening with an open mind the opinion of others (more or less “expert” they appear to be), the final choice must always be based on our experience. This is the only way to truly distinguish what, for us, works and what not.
The path to truth provides a direct and personal analytical effort that passes through:
- Our body – Each person is structurally different and this makes us automatically faster / slower, physically stronger / weaker, etc.
- Our mind – Each person is mentally unique and this makes us more defensive / aggressive, tactical / instinctive, etc.
- Our attitudes – Each person has a specific natural adaptability, we can prefer a style more rigid / flexible, grounded / mobile, deceptive / direct, etc.
- Our impressions – We have to test first-person the different styles, the experience must be ours (and in no case the second-handed of the others)
- Our rationality – We must honestly analyze the things from the most logical possible perspective (and again the point of view must be ours)
A note by Master Kongling – The point is that it does not exist absolutes in martial arts, the bear cannot fly and the butterfly can not crush. It is too dangerous to force our choices on things that work for bodies and minds totally different from ours. It does not matter whether it’s a beginner or a grandmaster trying to convince us: the last word is up to us. We will certainly make errors but each of them will growth our martial ability (read Measure ourselves with errors). There isn’t a style without limits (including ours), it is for this reason that 6 Dragons Kung Fu try has been structured in a so modular way (read 6DKF: what does it teach?).
What value to give to the opinion of the others
It’s important to stress that the criticisms and reflections of the others must not be avoided; they must stimulate us to reflect and to integrate our failures with other alternatives (trough split tests, sparring sessions, etc.).
The opinions have to be slowly “digested”:
- We must personally proof what works (for us) and what not
- In every single discussion, what is good has to be assimilated and the rest has to be deleted
In any case, we must have the last word because it is we who will cross fists with our opponents, not our good or bad advisers. Especially for those who are beginners, it is easy to fall prey of:
- Teachers / practitioners that with their expertise perform annihilations of other fighting styles / techniques (in ridiculous blatantly asymmetric / fake confrontations)
- Teachers / practitioners who, deluding their interlocutors to possess a superior martial culture, demonstrate the weakness of other fighting styles (through poor logic, quotations and smoky examples)
- Teachers / practitioners that, from the safe position of the master, judge the execution of techniques or styles of fighting in an extremely severe way (without exposing themselves in any way, keeping silent about what works and only in order to exalt their methods)
A note by Master Kongling – This is generally the norm. Unfortunately, martial arts have a strong physical component and this attracts a lot of people who do not like constructive / rational confrontation, people that prefer to base their communication method on things like prevarication, pride, hierarchy imposition and prejudice. We must be patient.
Let’s learn to respect the others, their points of view and especially to absorb only what makes sense. Let us never forget that all our past experience (from the first fight at school until today) is part of our martial luggage and must be:
- Corrected and redirected
- Never deleted / overwritten
A note by Master Kongling – The expert is not someone who has had the good fortune to always take the right path but one that has already traveled all the wrong ones. On the other hand, those who cancel their experiences remain always a beginner and their growth is anchored to pure chance.
The effectiveness of martial arts is in the body and mind of those who practice it and never in the system / style itself (it is for this reason that any TV / internet definitive confrontation can be interesting and funny but remains childish, read MMA vs Tai Chi 10 seconds knock out: an explanation).
- How to use martial arts in a real fight – What we need to implement the martial art we have studied in a real context
- Martial art and self-defense: what are the differences? – What makes martial arts so different from a self-defense system?
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- How do you test the others opinions in martial arts terms?
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.