It is one of those things that I think about very little, although it can be common, where friends and peers give you flack for training in the Martial Arts, I’m not really talking about fellow Martial Artists bashing other fellow Martial Artists, I’m talking about individuals, no matter what ethnic background, age, gender or creed they are, they come way short in understanding how our way our life is in the Martial Arts world. I’m talking to those that never in their life took up a Martial Art system giving Martial Artists flack. I heard words from my peers, it’s a waste of time, you have no life, Karate is not helping you etc. There are reasons that I would or would not understand, and I am completely baffled.
I never, in my life heard any of my family members give me flack for training in the Martial Arts. I never heard any negative feedback on what I love to do. In fact, almost 12 years ago, my mother and my older brother enrolled me in a Karate program. When I gone through my black belt test, my family was present to watch for love and support. Those are moments I will never forget. I’m proud of my accomplishments in my Martial Arts journey, and I will keep doing it for the rest of my life. I have family members that took Martial Arts, such as my older brother who did Judo for a brief time, my Aunt who came from Barbados and settled in Toronto took up Taekwondo and made it to green belt, and my young cousin who is 5 years of age is taking Taekwondo. Being a second-generation Martial Artists is not easy, I had shoes to fill by making to black belt whereas my Aunt never got a chance to.
Outside the Martial Arts world my intentions was to keep it a secret, but eventually it will come out. Since I’m a volunteer assistant instructor, I have a job on the side to support me. Many people who train in the Martial Arts, no matter what rank they are, have a well-paying job, no matter what geographical location they are in. the big myth that’s never been brought up is that all Martial Arts school owners only make their living off of teaching, including the assistant instructors who make at least part-time wage. It’s not always true, it depends how large the student body is or if the Sensei runs a black belt mill commonly called “Mcdojo.” I’ve been told by one person, and this issue was quite touchy and personal and that could have and would have drove a wedge in between me and the academy where I trained and help teach at for over 10 years. My friend told me that I was being taken advantage of. If that personal opinion directed at me got to me and if I ever gone with it; that would be 10+ years of loyalty being flushed down the drain. In my defense, I deny that I am being taken advantage of, and it is backed up by facts more than personal opinion. I was never forced to come to class, I had free membership because I volunteer to assist at black belt level at least once per week, I can take time off whenever I feel like it, I was never forced to clean the dojo every time I show up, It was never mandatory for me to participate and attend seminars, tournaments or any type of function related to Martial Arts being advertised in any way, shape, or form. I also been told by one person that Karate is not helping me. Period. It’s either people who don’t know how the system works, or simply ignorant. I know that he meant that it’s not helping me financially…that’s why I have a regular full-time day job. Now again, people believe that club owners and assistant instructors only make a living of teaching classes. The fact is that so few Senseis who run dojos (I’m not talking about Mcdojos) is the only career they live off of, depending if they have hundreds of students and have the dojo open 6 days per week, and maybe, if possible if the business provides day classes for adults who work evening shifts, and provide an after-school program to recruit more young students. In Okinawa, most club owners have a job on the side as much as their Western counterpart, because they prefer to have a few, well-disciplined students, while they have a regular job may it be fishing, selling products, law enforcement etc. There are universities in mainland Japan and some in the Western world that have instructors that teach Karate and other Martial Arts at campuses. It’s hard to get a full-time job doing that, you have to have a degree in Physical Education and Kinesiology/Anatomy or anything related to the human body. The best thing about that career, is that College students come to you, instead toiling away printing out Ads and distributing them around to various neighbourhoods. Now, furthermore about that ridiculous claim that Karate is not helping me, the person who said that to me completely left out other benefits that Karate can help me with, it gives me good exercise, it helps me increase my focus, it improves my health, makes me more disciplined, helps me learn self-respect, helps me improve my self-confidence, and I am getting my education in self-defence techniques. These positive benefits can take anyone to accomplish other things outside their Martial Arts training. If I didn’t find those things, I wouldn’t be training at all. I have trained many students that started out being introverted, I have trained students who had learning differences and they can be a handful, but overtime with patience and guidance they have improved, I can’t save everybody, so I can’t beat myself over the head about it. So it will silly to say to them that Karate is not helping them. It’s like saying that to an individual who likes to play golf as a hobby. I would like to use this analogy since my dad’s hobby is golf. Now, let us say that my dad decides to play golf as a hobby, and play a few local tournaments a year instead of playing in the amateurs and work his way up to the PGA. He had a well-paying, regular job that provide for him and his family. Now is it fair for anyone to say that golfing is not helping him? Will that imply for playing other sports as a hobby a waste of time and would not help anyone if one decides not to make money off of it?
Others ignorantly believe that self-defences is a waste of time and they don’t work at all and it only works in movies. Well, quite frankly we see action movies and the actors such as Jean Claude Van-Damme, Jackie Chan and others do flashy Martial Arts techniques to make their movies more entertaining. Those moves would not work in real life confrontation, and that making a fight scene is always choreographed. Now if one trains in the dojo effective self-defence techniques seriously and practices everyday, those techniques can most likely work in a real-life confrontation. Gichin Funakoshi said, “It takes one hit one kill.” Or what I learned at my school, “Keep it short and simple (KISS).”
Another thing is tournaments. Whenever I share my ups and downs to anyone who never took Martial Arts, especially if I bottomed out of the top 3 or didn’t make it in 1st place, I’ve been told that I never win. I tell the truth about the Martial Arts world in order to preserve our respected arts for our generation and the ones to follow. My main focus in my journey in the Martial Arts is understanding effective combat techniques more than winning trophies. If I trained in a school that focuses on sport Karate and I expect to learn realistic combat that can save my life, then I would be wasting my time in that place. I’m not big on Karate competition, I only compete 3 or 4 times per year and I don’t expect to win. In fact, I have been consistently been placed in the top 3, and I’m not only talking about the small inter-dojo tournaments. It does happen that I come up short, and some judges may be bias, but I don’t whine about it because it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun and participating and those that never done any Martial Art are out of touch in that state of mind. Gichin Funakoshi said “The ultimate aim in Karate lies not in victory or defeat it lies in the participants of character.” Martial Arts is about spiritual fulfillment, not materialistic fulfillment. If I were to train only on the sport aspect of my Karate training and compete 3 or 4 times per month, then I would have a better chance of getting more wins, because training on that path would help me in the sporting side of it, but would not help me in a real-life confrontation. It’s very important to know the difference while looking for the right school for you. What I like about tournaments is that I get to meet new people, make new friends and add them to my Facebook friends list. Who is he kidding that I have no life if a train in Karate?
I don’t exactly know why those type of people give dedicated, passionate Martial Artists flack, maybe because the Asian styles and their philosophies are foreign to them despite that is has been in the Western world for seventy years. Keep in mind my fellow Martial Artists, wherever you are in your journey don’t treat your Martial Arts as just a hobby, or a job, make it a way of life, make it a part of your everyday life. I would not waste my time hanging around negative people. I would not waste my time hanging around with these losers who are ignorant, jealous, jerks who are plain stuck up trying to dictate my life thinking that they know everything and that the world revolves around them. Being able to teach classes as a living full-time is a dream for me. It’s a long-term goal for me to get there. I have no desire to make money being a prize fighter in MMA or be an action movie star, but who knows maybe I would meet my own goals. Never let friends be a negative influence on you.