Challenging the Masters part 2: The value of tradition

Hello folks, I am back on it. I have just been made nauseous by a class that I recently observed. Now, I am not going to discuss the style or the school, that is not important. What is important, is that the tenets that keep, and have kept the martial arts timeless are in danger. What I am talking now is blind adherence to tradition. I am speaking about how blind faith is a very dangerous thing. Now you may ask, what traditions am I talking about? I am more than happy to tell you. Now first of all, let me say that I am a huge believer in certain traditions. I believe that honor, discipline, courage, integrity and loyalty are parts of the martial arts that should remain unchanged and forever a part of out training. We NEED it to be difficult. It is SUPPOSED to hurt sometimes. You SHOULD wonder whether or not you can make it through class. That is what makes it great. Like the old proverb from India says: "Those born in the flame, will not fade in the sun." We need martial arts as a catalyst to our growth as people. We need to learn how to push ourselves for just one more kick, one more throw, one more foot sweep. It is that desire to push ourselves beyond our limits that makes martial arts and training priceless. But here is the question, when is enough enough? At what point does old tradition get in the way of good old fashioned common sense? I personally feel that the true masters of martial arts were great men ( and women, don't get all sexist on me). I know that the techniques that they created were to address the reality of contemporary combat. But face it, the reality of modern fighting is much different. I am sure that the masters of the old martial arts were very formidable, and that their techniques were more than adequate for their time. But in modern times, we have developed technology and strategies that have moved us beyond those old ways. We have built on top of those old methods to develop techniques that are more refined, and in some ways superior to their predecessor. Now for you diehard traditionalists out there, here comes the cold water. I don't care what you would like to believe, our modern practitioners have greater access to superior training methods and diet than did the old masters. If you don't believe that, look at the Olympics as an example. Every 4 years, once unbeatable times have been diminished. Once unfathomable weights are lifted, pushed, and pulled. Fact is, we are more athletic than our fore-fathers in training. And I said all of this to say, that we have been able to improve on the old methods without the harsh training endured by our ancestors. That is NOT to say the training should be a smiling fun time. That is NOT to say that there was no merit in the old ways. Time MUST pass before inventions can be refined, or discarded even. For the people who created the first airplanes, cars, spacecraft, etc, they were too busy inventing the technology, to be able to sit back and refine their methods in any major capacity. That is the job of the subsequent generations, and that is exactly what I am writing about. I am going to challenge, and challenge you to debunk my logic. I am going to question a number of our traditions. Why do we still wear gis? Why don't you wear shoes in training? Why do you punch makiwara? Why do you kick with the blade of your foot? Why do you not allow leg kicks in your school? Why don't you spar full-contact? Why don't you practice better footwork? Why do you award children black belts? And a WHOLE lot more. Hold on kids, the interwebs just got a little spicier. See you in two shakes..........

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