Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Morning Ideas About the Martial Arts and the Business of the Martial Arts

I don’t believe in the “power” of the martial arts.
I believe in the power to make change, the power of passion, the power of purpose, the power of courage and contribution and compassion ---and of course, I believe in the power of love for self, family, fellow man, for nature, and of wonder.

That is, of course, easy to say –but difficult to make manifest in my (your) day-to-day existence. This is, I think, “the practice.”

I don’t believe in the martial arts
The martial arts is architecture is art is science is invention is engineering is math is everything the world is. The martial arts represent another tool which people use to make love, war, science, beauty, pain, and what have you. Look at Frank Lloyd Wright and see Bruce Lee, see Jigaro Kano, see Buckminster Fuller, see Frieda Kahlo, see Albert Einstein, see Jhoon Rhee, see any man or woman who created, taught, inspired, and sought excellence and invention in the subject that called their name. The subject is irrelevant –the attitude and purpose behind it is the core. It’s the intent –it’s the following of the passion-- and it’s the desire to make, to create, to change, and at its highest levels --to inspire and make a difference in the world..

I don’t believe in styles
Let down the barriers you can perceive –forget about your “style,” forget about the country it originated in, forget about the martial arts, and see the world from as big a place as you can. Forget about the color of one’s skin, of their nationality, of what flag waves over their capital buildings; forget about their religion, their gender, their sexual preferences.

Whenever you hear “martial artist” –you hear or say “human being.” Whenever you hear “martial arts” –you hear or say “life.” There is no “martial arts” –there is only life and living. Spending your energy to be a master-level martial artist is a ridiculous pursuit –being an evolved, compassionate, empathetic, contributing human being –now there is something worth pursuing.

This is my “Business Advice” to you
Take all of the above, blend it (with crushed ice), add your own special ingredients, then slowly pour it over your business (your martial arts school, its curriculum, your promotional campaign, your black belt training, your own training) –or whatever else you care about –and I think THIS is the way to profit –to achieve “success,” to “get your gross up,” and to feel a kind of drive and purpose and passion that make you grateful to be alive.

We are (our “industry”) thinking TOO SMALL and we’re OFF COURSE
Let’s hear this (and more) out of the mouths of our “leaders” in the martial arts community. Let’s hear someone say, “We are being disrespectful to our planet, let’s do something about it.” Let’s hear them say, “We are massacring children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and all in the name of fear and hate and borders and religion and misunderstanding and greed…let’s DO something about it.” Let’s have the courage to talk about responsibility to nature, about the stupidity and evil of war and violence, of the absurdity of the distractions we pursue to avoid the things which really ought to have our attention. Let’s bring the integrity back to the martial arts (to life) by being the heroes we so admire.

If all of you are, indeed, pursuing “the martial arts” at its highest levels, then seek to define “mastery.” I, for one, am in the pursuit of mastery –and by looking for something… I think one is more likely to find it. I am not a “master” –I am actively involved in the discussion, the study of, the pursuit of, the idea that represents “the master’s work.” I’m not seeking to “become” a master –I’m seeking to create change and clarity in a way that indicates some degree of mastery (of clarity).

When I can bottle this (all of the above), and use it on the floor when I’m teaching my classes –I don’t need the ads…I don’t need the “renewal strategy”…I don’t need to phone script, the employee’s manual, the statistics, --all of those things become the clothing, not the person.

Let’s start tomorrow…with a deep awareness of what we consume –and the cause and effect of that consumption. Let’s teach what needs to be taught –not just what sells lessons, upgrades, and that builds “student retention.” Let’s start small and build momentum by engaging in a quality of thinking –and action –that represents the “power” we so often relate to the martial arts.

Our opportunity is to alter the intent and purpose of learning the martial arts –of its value as a form of “education.” If we do this, we can charge a rate for our lessons that supports our endeavors. We will also find some of the passion that fuels the fire of a business that transcends the meaning –and be teachers like the great, but simple, men and women (MASTERS) we all admire.

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