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Martial Arts Commentary

The Application of Primal Action on a Sophisticated Plane

Any form of violence that is expressed through rage is primal in the attempt of the user to “kill” an enemy, and there is usually no control of the physical or mental state of the person attacking. A trained martial arts practitioner should be able to control this type of attack, but for the most part is unable to do it. Anyone who trains to be a black belt should be able to take care of themselves by using sophisticated techniques to accomplish their ends. Unfortunately, the same conditions apply here though in reverse; they are unable to actuate themselves as the thing they are studying. They are incorrectly taught that pacification is the key to survival and to express oneself through violence goes against the so-called creed of compassion towards another. This is taught in various forms, although many sensei suggest to their students that they react with “savage intensity.”

The main reason that “black belts” can’t take care of themselves is that they are generally led to believe that karate and the martial arts are for self-defense, spiritual enlightenment, physical conditioning, etc., anything except the reality of what they are truly intended for. This is absolutely not the case. Bear in mind that I am not talking about children learning martial arts for reasons of self-discipline, self-esteem, etc. Just watching the little tykes performing their acrobatics is enough to soften the hardest hearted warrior. Twelve year old black belts, boys and girls, are indeed quaint notions that should be taken somewhat seriously in the advent that some of them may in time develop into full-fledged and valuable “ka.”

In order to be in the so-called “zone” or “state” of fierce combat viability, it is essential that students be taught exactly what it is that they are being taught without the glossing over and super hype about them eventually becoming inestimable warriors. It requires a sensei with intelligence to perceive what the student needs and not what the governing board of judges at a ranking ceremony is looking for so that they can control their definition of how belts should be awarded. Thusly done, the student gets ripped off and develops a false sense of security that can cause them great harm, especially by someone who is not impressed with the braggadocio of meaningless rank.

The martial arts were never intended to be for the masses. They were specifically for the soldiers of any society to protect that society from any form of intrusion. True, self-defense is a good thing to know, but more important is the realization of when to use it, and then to be able to use it effectively and meaningfully. It is the responsibility of the sensei to be able to teach on this level and not with the idea of providing karate lessons for the after school crowd or bored house wives. Teaching a student the right mentality brings with it the perception of any attacker to sense imminent danger to themselves should they attempt to cause harm to someone who obviously knows how to take care of themselves.

Being a sensei is a significantly important thing. It is not a hobby profession, although there are plenty of part-time good practitioners who are sincere in their approaches. They take their responsibilities seriously. They know who they are and don’t permit themselves to acquiesce to false pride. ”Wannabes” cannot be convinced otherwise, and they simply do not have the experience or the maturity to teach a life and death subject.


© SFKaufman 2011

For more info on Hanshi Stephen Kaufman and to order books, visit http://www.hanshi.com


One comment on “Martial Arts Commentary

  1. Outstanding sir!

    This reminds me so much of an email I sent you a few years back, about the end of martial arts being peaceful resolution. The response I got from you shook me up and, as a result, put me on a much more … real … approach to my idea of what the ultimate end of martial training is all about.

    Thank you once again, sir!

    your student,


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