Sunday, November 02, 2008

My sojourn of septillon steps got 2 steps longer...

...and I realize that 'sojourn' doesn't mean 'journey' but I wanted something to sound like 'journey of a thousand steps' and have an alliteration with "S" because of 'stickgrappler' so I came up with Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillon Steps... LOL @ me.

So my journey of a thousand steps/sojourn of septillon steps got 2 steps longer, yes, not shorter, but longer! About a month or 2 months ago, 2 separate discussions just clued me in on how clueless I really am in the life-long journey of the martial arts.

The first discussion was with my friend, T. A brief background on my friend T. He's into FMA and Silat. He is an instructor...way more experienced than I am, seen way more stuff than I have, trained with many instructors, both "famous" and "non-famous". We both watched an instructor's weapons dvd in which I had an interest in the weapon taught. I couldn't get past a production value to get to the essence of the material. I didn't view the dvd as a student who has an interest in the material and some knowledge of it, but just as a consumer and looking to get his money's worth and how 1 production value soured me on the dvd. My friend T. gave me his take on the dvd. He was disappointed in the dvd not because of the production value that I harped on, but he pointed out a flaw in the material taught. Maybe subconsciously I saw the flaw or maybe not. He pointed out that some of the drills shown did not take into consideration the unique properties of the weapon being taught. The drills were better suited for a blade and the weapon taught was not a blade. I may have come to the same conclusion, just would've taken me way longer to arrive there.

When my friend mentioned it, it floored me. No, not the flaw of the material, but just how much more I have to travel on my journey in the martial arts. The mirror was reflecting back the truth. The truth hurts sometimes but there is no escaping it. I thought I was slightly past a beginner... I felt that I should've 'seen' that flaw, I used the excuse of the 'production value' blinding me to the material... but in the end when I did some introspection, I cannot deny that I am not even a beginner in the martial arts. For someone who thought he knew a little about the martial arts, this discussion just showed me the truth sucks, the truth hurts, but at least I'm not that blind to the truth once it hits me nor am I in denial of the truth.

The second discussion was with one of my training partners, J. A bit on J: he has his first degree black belt in Shotokan Karate or maybe it's a second degree. The dojo where he trains, starts teaching the Chinese Internal Arts after black belt level. He's learning Tai Chi/Taiji and Pa Kua/Bagua. We went to the same college where we met. We somehow ended up discussing martial arts given that we probably met during a chess game. Through discussions with me, he went on to explore Jeet Kune Do Concepts and Wing Tsun Kuen. He also trained in some judo by way of Vee-Arnis. He sees parallels in Silat with Taiji/Bagua. Since college, we have been life-long friends, even brothers from another mother if you will.

I was checking out some martial arts books on a weapon which was mostly Japanese-influenced. I had seen some videos on the same weapon which was Filipino-based. I kept thinking and thinking and couldn't put my finger on it on why they were different. I just couldn't put into words what I was thinking to explain the differences. I started discussing this with J. given his shotokan background. The first sentence he said to me was something probably any proverbial white belt in the martial arts would've described about the Japanese styles. Again, I had the wind knocked out of my sails, I was knocked down and I saw the ref counting to 10. I couldn't get up. This discussion was shortly after my discussion with T. As if I didn't already feel down about myself, this further drove the stake into my heart like Van Helsing to Dracula.

The truth can be like the unseen knockout punch or falling for a sucker punch. I wanted to break that mirror badly that reflected the truth. I didn't like what I saw. What can I do about it? Train harder. Think clearer. Develop analytical skills which cut to the core, to the essence of any material. Think through the material... find its strengths, find its weaknesses. What else can I do? Introspect and post about it to my blog LOL

This post is dedicated to T. and J. Without both of them, it probably would've taken me longer to realize how much I still have to learn, to develop, to grow, to travel on my journey of a thousand steps. Without them, I probably would've continued to believe that I was halfway decent and just a few notches above whitebelt level.

Hmmm... so I guess I should change the name of my blog to 'Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillon and Two Steps'? LOL

p.s. please forgive the stream-of-consciousness writing on this post. Something I needed to get off my chest.


Anonymous said...

Interesting and humble post. I ached to know more directly what the quotes were that floored you.


Stickgrappler said...

Hello Steven Smith:

i apologize for not writing clearer... i was floored not by the comments made by T. and J. but by the realization that i should've been able to come up with the comments they made and yet i didn't. that showed me that i was not at a level of my martial arts journey which i thought i was at. to use the BJJ ranking system, i thought i was whitebelt level, but their comments made me realize, i still have a ways to go to reach whitebelt level because i didn't come to the same conclusions they did.

hope that cleared it up for you. thank you for reading/visiting my blog

Dharma Hawk said...

I stumbled upon your blog a while back and noticed the name change when I returned and couldn't help but notice this post.

As a student of martial arts who doesn't get to train nearly as much as he wants to, I feel your pain. All the best martial artists I know, or know of, are eternal students: always learning.

I guess martial arts, is like life: a journey, not a destination. I guess the key is to enjoy the ride.

God speed to you my fellow grasshopper.

Stickgrappler said...

hello Dharma Hawk:

great post. amen! nothing more i can say that you have not already said. thank you.


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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps