I LOVE Filipino Martial Arts. A LOT.
Those that know me know that my martial arts journey changed that day I stepped into the rickety old shophouse on Yan Kit road in 2008 for a trial lesson with my teacher, Guro Fred Evrard and met my Kali family --- a journey that is still ongoing for me.
That said, most of my life I have been a traditional Japanese martial artist. Apart from Kali Majapahit, which is the only art I teach now, my other teaching licenses comprise 25 years of study and are all in very traditional disciplines including Yoshinkan Aikido, Kiyama-Ryu Iaijutsu and Ninjutsu. I started when I was 14 and have been involved in martial arts all of my adult life. Without my training, I would not have achieved the success I achieved in my family and career.
This training was how I became who I am. It is the most precious gift I have.
In a Japanese dojo, we clean. A LOT. We clean the dojo mats after every single class (see above) and we do monthly/quarterly big cleaning sessions on weekends where we systematically clean the whole dojo top to bottom. All of these tasks are done together, teachers and students, regardless of rank. None of us see this as a chore. WHY??
At the core of the Japanese martial arts is RESPECT. The hierarchy looks like this:
- Respect for life
- Respect for the art
- Respect for the teacher
- Respect for our training partners
- Respect for self
Respect is the cornerstone of the training. Without this, we cannot build our character. Even if my house were messy, my dojo would be spotlessly clean. My dojo is my HEART, my sacred place where I develop myself. My temple where I celebrate my life journey with my Kali family. I keep it clean like I keep myself clean. I organize the dojo like I organize my Life. Little things (like cleaning) lead to big things (like success). I become someone who DOES rather than someone who merely talks about doing.
Yes, punctuality is also a sign of respect (all of the 5 "respects" above). Life is made up of time - the art is developed over time, our teacher has invested his/her time, our training partners are on time ---> we develop discipline when we learn to be on time.
Every student must keep asking the question "Why am I training?". Answers may vary, but "becoming a better person" should always be part of the response. Otherwise, if all we learn is how to move our bodies we could do this at a sports gym. If it is only about punching and kicking we are missing the point.
MARTIAL ARTS IS LEARNING HOW TO MANAGE OUR LIVES TO ACHIEVE THE RESULTS WE WANT
It makes us BETTER PEOPLE.
This is such a powerful skill that it can change our lives forever. It gives us the tools to help others change their lives too. If you disagree with me, I suggest you sit down with any one of the Guros and discuss it. Please do.
My brothers and sisters earned their black belts by understanding this. Their rank recognizes their commitment not just to their own training and development, but to YOURS. They have so much, which is why they can give so much (and they do). This can be you, too.
The starting place is to learn how to suppress the Ego. This establishes that we are all the same. Thus, what one can do, anyone can do. Regardless of social status, race, color or creed when we put on the uniform we are all THE SAME. What someone else can do, I can do (if I train). This is absolute freedom.
A famous Japanese proverb writes, "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step"...well, here it is. Pick up your broom and start your journey.
Let's go TOGETHER.