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I am a martial artist. The more I train, the more I come to realize this: I am a martial artist. I'm not a fighter. I'm not a tough guy. Challenge me all you like, I refuse to take you on. Despite my temper, I hate confrontation.
I don't like physically hurting people. No really, I don't. When I verbally hurt someone out of anger, I end up hurting myself with guilt and a lot of I-shouldn't-haves. I'd hate to think what my conscience would do were I to deliberately use physical force on a person simply because I was angry. Despite the dark attraction I have for violence, the thought of actually becoming a violent person, with all its karma, terrifies me.
So why do I practice martial arts? Why cross train in Aikido and Arnis? Why spend countless hours sweating and breathing hard, swinging sticks, hitting targets, applying locks and throws, getting thrown and pinned and getting up every time?
I don't know. I do know that I am an artist. This is my chosen art. My medium is not paint and canvas. My medium is the movement of my body, my brushes are my sticks and hands, my canvas, myself.
My art is not a solitary art, although I do train solo from time to time. It is a collaborative art - together with my opponent, we create that which we deem beautiful albeit brutal. We do not fight - not even when we actively try to hit/pin/throw each other. Rather, we play our respective roles to the best of our abilities, in the quest of making something together. Many times we find ourselves laughing while taking turns tossing and being tossed through the air, many times we smile while tapping out to the pain of a well-applied lock. And when I get one good hit on the rubber tire with my stick: WHAPAK! YES! AGAIN!
I am a martial artist. Yes, my skills can be used to defend my loved ones as well as myself. But when it comes to protecting my family, I believe preventing/avoiding a situation where I might have to use my martial skills is more effective than any of the techniques I have in my arsenal. So I would rather fight by not fighting, win by not having to win in the first place.
Why? Because I am not a fighter. I am not a tough guy.