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We are the best ... no we are!
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Last night while getting changed for training I was chatting to this french guy who practices Karate in another hall in the centre where we train. I was just enquiring about what form he does as I was curious. He was discussing how his martial art was a traditional and ancient form of Karate and focuses on speed, "Its very fast" he said (imagine french accent). You could see as he talked about it his belief it was the best.

While I don't really care if it is or not, his passion towards his own martial arts is what I often see in every martial artist. A strong belief in themselves towards their martial arts and that their martial arts is the best. Be it for speed, technique, weapons etc. And I see this in myself too. And every martial arts seems to talk down about another martial arts style.

While I support the passion I can't help but wonder if he, and even I, suffer from a type of martial arts myopia (the parrallel's are quite similar to Levitt in his article on marketing called "Marketing Myopia".

As much as I see this passion as a good thing that drives a martial artist to excel in their own right, I feel it also can be a bit like blinkers on a race horse - a tunnel vision that can be a weakness and can in time hinder development and progression. It also fosters a type of competitive negativity instead of respect to others that have in their own way embraced the martial spirit, even if it differs from our own.

Now as much as a believe in the Bujinkan I can't help but be wary of this attitude in myself towards others. No real point to this post, just a discussion on the topic. How do others feel about it?

Posted on: 2007/1/31 12:40
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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Maybe a shorter and more succinct read on Marketing Myopia

Posted on: 2007/1/31 12:42
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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Yes, blind loyalty is a great thing for many people, but I don't think that every case is this blind. I'm certain that if you study any art long enough, you will certainly be very good and better than most people out there. It comes down to the first part of the sentence - "if you study long enough". You have to stick with it long enough, work through your problems and initial limitations to really learn the art. As Soke says "Gambatte". As to who the best is, you would be right if you said your art was the best....for you. In order to continue with an art, you have to be able to enjoy doing it, to be "in love" with your art. In many respects, you have to "Marry" your art to get the most out of it.

Just as in marriage, this does not mean that the art becomes all you do. You find that the art makes your life better and that you eventually study the art - to improve your life. This transends those who study an art to learn to beat someone else up. I don't mean that you will beat them, just that you will learn your art better, and probably get more out of it and your life.

My wife and I both train, so I guess we kind of have a three way going on!

Marty

Posted on: 2007/1/31 15:00
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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Related to this, I - from time to time - ask the people training under my "tutelage" three questions:

1) Do you know why you train?
2) How do you want to train?
3) Are you training the way you want?

Sometimes we have an image of the thing we do... but that might not be correct, we have painted it ourselves. And if that image is not correct, then... well, might lead to bitterness at the point when we do realize the "truth".

Pete Reynolds also put it nicely once along these lines in Japan: "Being interested in the idea of training, not the training itself..."

Posted on: 2007/1/31 18:44
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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Quote:

deancrabb wrote:
As much as I see this passion as a good thing that drives a martial artist to excel in their own right, I feel it also can be a bit like blinkers on a race horse


The blinkers are there for a reason. So the horse doesn't get distracted and does his best to win. Shouldn't we be doing our best to win at (learn) Budo Taijutsu? If you don't think the martial art you are training in is the best, why are you training in it?

Posted on: 2007/1/31 19:35
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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Quote:

deancrabb wrote:
As much as I see this passion as a good thing that drives a martial artist to excel in their own right, I feel it also can be a bit like blinkers on a race horse


Quote:

benkyoka wrote:
The blinkers are there for a reason. So the horse doesn't get distracted and does his best to win. Shouldn't we be doing our best to win at (learn) Budo Taijutsu? If you don't think the martial art you are training in is the best, why are you training in it?


Quote:

Dean wrote in post before this one:
Now as much as a believe in the Bujinkan I can't help but be wary of this attitude in myself towards others.


Maybe your blinkers are on too tight.

Posted on: 2007/1/31 21:31
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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Quote:

deancrabb wrote:
Maybe your blinkers are on too tight.


Maybe. I didn't mean to single you out with my comment. I was just quoting your post.

Posted on: 2007/1/31 21:37
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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One must be confident in oneself if one is to survive a real fight. However, arrogance WILL lead to VERY bad mistakes and miscalculations.

Find the happy medium.


Posted on: 2007/1/31 22:49
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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My two cents for what it's worth (not much!) relates to your second to last paragraph Dean. I think anyone who harbors that "competitive negativity" is really showing a weakness in themselves. (one that could get them seriously hurt!) Hatsumi sensei has mentioned in his books that superior warriors can be found in other arts. If someone was not to respect another warrior because of the art they study or just not respect another art all together is a bit inmature and foolish. (IMHO) For example, in Essence of Ninjutsu, Sensei talks about a great karate master whom he preceives to have a lot of skill.... So I guess what I mean is we should train with the intense passion you speak about in order to make us better warriors of the Bujinkan while at the same time respecting others arts and realize they are also on a "martial path" to excellence for themselves.

Posted on: 2007/2/1 2:30
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Re: We are the best ... no we are!
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I believe that one needs motivation when training in any art. However what that motivation is, seems to be the underlying conflict here. If you are training for the purpose of self-protection and achieving peace, then fine. However if you are training in this art because it is the "best", then there lies a trap. It would seem that once you begin thinking in terms of what is "best of the best", everthing will become a competition. This would be an appropriate motivation (in my opinion) for a martial sport. However in a combative martial art, it could lead to self-destruction.

Posted on: 2007/2/1 2:31
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