The Scott Shaw Blog

Be Positive

Bow Down to Me

It seems that recently I've been writing a lot about the martial arts and the various aspects; both mental and physical that come into play with its practice. I guess I need to begin this piece by stating, I have been formally involved with the martial for longer than most practitioners have been alive. Well over fifty years by this stage of my life. In fact, closer to sixty. As these years have passed on, many of my contemporaries have passed on. There are still a few practitioners I know, who are alive and who have been doing the marital arts for longer than I, but as each year passes by, their numbers get fewer and fewer. And, as I have so often said, most of the truly great practitioners I have known, their memory has been lost to the world forever. They were simple practitioners or instructors who practiced and/or operated their school in relative obscurity. But, think how many of their students learned life-long lessons from them that they practice to this day.

I guess this brings us to the point of this piece; as I have been involved with the martial arts for so long, I have encountered so many practitioners, from so many styles, that I have been allowed to not only see the trends in the evolving martial arts but witness or even fall prey to some of the obvious shortcomings.

Some would say that the martial arts are based in physical warfare and from this, this gives birth to the warrior mindset and, as such, some practitioners bring this to all levels of their life. Maybe… But, the modern martial arts are not the formalized military. The modern martial arts are not defined by a regiment. There are not platoons. There are not soldiers sent to fight a specific battle guided by their superior officers. If you learn how to use a samurai sword in the martial arts, most probably you are not training to go and kill an enemy combatant. And, if you do, you are probably going to jail.

Again, the martial arts are not the military. There is no formal rank structure based upon the singular component of protecting one’s country and the interests of that county across the globe. What there is are people, schools, and organizations that are set up to embellish a specific style and/or a specific teacher. From this—from the undefined and undisciplined mindset of many modern advanced practitioners, there has become this sense of a, “Bow down to me,” mentality. Practitioners work to gain rank. Practitioners train to win combat scenarios in the ring. Some work to become prominent organizational leaders. But, how many of them work on truly finding the pathway towards a higher self and humility?

Like I have long said, if you live your life based upon competition, just like in the movies based on the Old West, you may win a bout or two but you will always eventually encounter the gun fighter who is faster than you. But, what if you were not competing, who would gun you down?

As I have been involved in the martial arts for so many years, I constantly physically train and I am forever revising my mental understanding of practices, techniques, and situations in my mind. I imagine that is the case of most long-standing martial artists. But, where/why does ego come into play in any of this? The only reason ego is allowed to enter this process, at all, is due to the fact that someone wants to be seen as something more—someone wants to be something more than you.

When one begins training in the martial arts it is not uncommon that the student develops a sense of admiration for their instructor and what they can do that the student can not yet do. That’s natural. As one’s maturity in the martial arts continues to evolve, they come to appreciate those with truly good techniques. That too is natural. But, where is the necessity for ego in any of this? Why does criticism and the, “I am more than you,” mentality come into play? Why does the, “Bow down to me,” ideology come to be actualized? Answer: It is just ego.

In what ancient manuscript is it written that ego should be one of the primary components of the martial arts? In what ago-old text is it written that one should bow down to anyone who is a self-proclaimed whatever who has found some way to gain some rank from some organization that did not exist a decade or a century ago? Where is it written that a person’s personal desire to be seen as a something, “More,” should become integrated into the true truth and understanding of the martial arts? Yet, this is what is going on all of the time. I say that the people who are following this path are missing the true point of the martial arts.

Think about it, if there was no rank in the martial arts then the only reason anyone would have a reason to practice would be for the betterment of their body and their mind. Practice would never be based upon ego. No one could ever expect to be respected simply because of their rank. With this, the martial arts could return to embracing their true essence and purpose.

Training to become, “Better,” (in anything), is one of the primary components in the evolution of anyone’s life. But, there are very few professions, like the martial arts, where one is allow to command people to, “Bow down to me,” and get away with it.

As I have said so many times in so many places, the best martial arts I have known are the one’s who are humble and silent. They teach courtesy and they teach respect in association with the physical and the mental techniques that are the cornerstone of the martial arts. They don’t attack other practitioners. They don’t claim to be better or more advanced than any other practitioner. They don’t broadcast their accomplishment to the world. They simply live a simple life, teaching their chosen vocation. For isn’t that the ultimate expression of a good and whole life? Isn’t that the definition of a good and whole person? Isn’t that the definition of a true martial artist?

Just think if all of the ego and condemnation was erased from the martial arts… Wouldn’t everybody’s everything become just a little bit better?

The martial art should be a pathway to physical and mental realization. It should not be a pathway to self-fulfilling ego stimulation.

Life is all based upon what path you choose and what you do with what is available to you. If you choose the martial arts as one of your primary pathway to the betterment of your life, then, as in all things good, whole, spiritual, and natural, that path should be free from ego. Even for you non-martial artists out there; think about it…