Monday, 12 September 2011

Open Minded

I started my martial arts training at the age of 5. Like most children who train my father took me down to the local club near home. It could have been any art really: Ju-Jitsu, Boxing, Judo, Aikido, the list is endless. It wasn’t the art that was important at the time, it was more to introduce me to some form of training, but the art was karate.

I continued to train and then started to enjoy the weapons that were sometimes taught in class. I was never interested in the history or where the art came from when I was younger; like most kids all I wanted to do was kumite and throw nunchaku around like a ninja turtle! Other people used to say why you don’t try another art? But I always had this closed mind that said: no, I’m a karate man, no other art will be able to offer me anything. How wrong I was.

Its only once you get older and start to read about the history and where the arts come from, especially the Japanese arts for me; that you realise they are all linked together. Kobudo training for when you have weapons or tools, Ju-Jitsu for throwing and joint locking on the battlefield and karate for the kicks and strikes of the farmers.

Unfortunately some people who have studied one art for many years seem to become close minded and hate the thought of standing in line, learning rather than teaching, kind of scared that they might be starting again. I’m a great believer in having a go at something else to help understand what other arts  are available and what they have to offer. Don’t dismiss an art until you have at least tried it and can say it’s not for you. To try something helps you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own art and helps you to grow as a martial artist.

Everybody is different in size, shape and fitness level and there is too much information to learn everything from all the different systems combined. This would be impossible, but to at least have a go and try something, even if it’s just on a course or a few classes, opens the mind to new ideas.

I recently taught on a course with two other instructors. There were many different people training from all different arts. I was the youngest and least experienced of the instructors and I started by explaining to everyone what the day meant to me and that it was to be ‘open minded’ day: for people to try the different arts being taught and take from them what they wished. If they didn’t like them that’s fine, but at least they’d have given it a go.

So what am I trying to say is: be careful not to get ’stuck in a rut’. Teaching is not learning. Yes we learn from our pupils but there is no replacement for standing in line and learning yourself. It helps your own training and knowledge but also opens your mind to what other people do in their dojos. You never know, you might even enjoy it!

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