SP ArCHIVES: Change paradigms

Luciano asked:

“This material was originally written in the late 1990s for the Toudi Kempo Research Foundation website. At this time, Steve was still trying to turn the karate establishment around and establish reality-based practices within the context of the traditions.”

(extracted from: www.morrisnoholdsbarred.co.uk/07articlearchives.htm)

I still trying the same, but not in karate, to turn the Aikido (Aikijitsu) establishment around and establish reality-based pratices within the context of the traditions (includes the “internal” martial arts from China).
What are your advices about this task after your previous experience with that karate´s “purists”?

Steve’s answer:

My advice? Don’t waste your time.

If you choose to ignore this advice, which you probably will, then here’s some more.

The first thing you have to do is challenge your own beliefs at every level before you can even begin to change or influence the beliefs of others. You’ve got to develop objective criteria by which to judge everything you see within the martial arts field. And this isn’t easy.

Say you took a fight where the stylistic backgrounds of the fighters was unknown. You showed it to practitioners of three or four different styles. Say it was a really great knockout with a round kick—and we remember that in a fight, no skill is ever optimal—there’s a very good chance that the Tae Kwon Do guy would see it as a kick from his style, the Muay Thai guy would claim it was his style’s kick, and the karate guy would see a mawashi geri. If I was in the mix, I’d just see it as a kick. I wouldn’t be seeing what I wanted to see, but what I needed to see; i.e., what made that kick effective. Was it the violent destructive mindset of the individual? Was it his physical attributes? Timing? Was it good biomechanics and good tactical application? Or was it just down to the fact that the guy he was fighting had a glass jaw? I see what I need to see, not what I want to see. I took the blinkers off a long time ago.

That’s why I say, just watch the fight and leave your preconceptions at the door.

The real thing for you is about raising the bar on your own performance and your students/members. If you’re going to stick your neck out, you’ve really got to be prepared for the challenges, both intellectually and physically. And you’ve really got to make sure that your shit’s together. And you’ve got to get used to, not just criticism, but people bad-mouthing you behind your back.

If you’re going to challenge people’s beliefs about the martial arts, then you’re challenging their investment in their ego, their grade, their title, their income, their next seminar, their dvds, their books…everything. And people don’t like that. To deal with that, you have to be extremely secure in yourself. You’ve really got to know your shit.

So if you’re going to insist on doing this, Luciano, my advice to you is to take a long, hard look at yourself and what you do before you even get started trying to change other people.

I, for example, have always been my own worst critic. I challenge myself from every angle. And that’s allowed me to make radical changes and be somewhat of a loose cannon, because I’ve got no vested interest in all the trappings of success. I’m just a martial artist.

And that’s what I’d suggest you become. That’s my best advice.