Tuesday, January 22, 2013
For those of you who have not seen Captain America, you should.
While it is on some levels a very patriotic pro-American movie, the underlying premise is an interesting one.
Steve Rogers is a skinny, wimpy kid from Brooklyn who is desperate to "do his part" in the war against Nazi Germany. He tries again and again to enlist, but is rejected for health reasons. He finally happens upon a doctor who is conducting research on a "super soldier" formula which will enhance the attributes of the subject.
This is the part I like - "it makes a good person better, it makes a bad person worse". The doctor chooses Steve because Steve does not want to fight per se, he "just doesn't like bullies, no matter where they're from". He undergoes the procedure and emerges with superhuman strength and speed. With his dying breath, the doctor reminds Steve to keep his good heart and remain just who he was. Steve becomes "America's First Superhero" and is ready to sacrifice himself for others and defend the weak from injustice.
Martial arts training is a lot like this.
It has been my experience that it enhances the basic attributes of the student - good becomes better, bad becomes worse. The quality of the teacher, his/her values and principles, his/her energy and beliefs strongly influence the students. These aspects help students to become more of who they already were.
The training makes good people into better people - not just faster and stronger, but more compassionate, more giving. It makes good people become heroes - defenders of the weak and champions against injustice.
REAL SUPERHEROES, which our planet needs very desperately.
In my post on The Karate Kid, I explain how the teacher determines the student, and I believe this is very much true. I have had experience of both good and bad teachers, and have seen the same in other schools. Choose your teachers well. Do not choose solely on the basis of physical prowess, but also according to their strong conviction and moral character. Choose based on their dedication to the school, the art, and the students.
American or not, I hope you will all become the heroes you are meant to be.