Here's what I wrote late last night... I generally get my best writing done at 2 o'clock in the morning
. It's mainly influenced by Daves posts, and a combination of things that have been said in this thread, and by a friend of mine that I was discussing this topic with. Guess I'm trying to put everything together and trying to figure out what some of the reasons we train are. Let me know your thoughts. And I'd like to repeat, influenced greatly by you guys, I'm not stealing your ideas as my own, and giving credit where it is due
. Enjoy.... and it lengthy so take a deep breath...
Why Do We Train?
Perhaps one of the hardest questions we ask ourselves as martial artists is why? Why train, what are the reasons, and are the reasons justifiable? Training happens on many levels, ranging from a hobby to a lifetime commitment or way of life. The hobbyists seeks something to do with their spare time, going to class when they "feel like it" or "desire too". There are different types of hobbyists though, and hobby-ism in the martial arts is not all bad. It's the hobbyist that considers him/herself a committed individual but does not perform as such, that can lead to self-destruction. It's the hobbyists that know they are hobbyists, and are either, ok with it, or wish to further their own commitment that can perform well, and not suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance that happens is as the definition states; anxiety resulting from inconsistency in the beliefs one has, and of the actions one performs. When we are at equilibrium with our reasons and actions, then and only then can we progress in our understanding of what we pursue. To think we can progress when we don't even understand ourselves is irrational, for how can we step forward, if we do not know from where we are stepping?
To understand that there are as many types of training as there are people is important. Everyone may have a different understanding, or philosophy, which they pursue. One's personal philosophy reflects who they are, what they will become, and how hard they will work. The vast majority of individuals usually start with a philosophy of doing it for themselves, thinking the martial arts is about them, their own development, or even making a martial art their own. While many will develop differently in the martial arts is it really their own? Or does this reflect some form of egocentric view? If we work so hard to preserve an art yet make it our own, then why do we pass it on? If we pass it on, it is no longer ours. This, in perhaps a shallow sense, confirms that we do not always study martial art simply to make it our own or for ourselves, because we understand that it will someday be someone else's turn to be the vehicle in which martial traditions travel. And while a martial art develops slightly differently with each individual it's core remains stable and intact. Never shifting, and continuously applied through the techniques of the system. Although things can appear distorted or shifted on the outside, nothing compares to what they are on the inside, which is where the importance lays.
Training for the self is irrational. The irrationality of this lays in the fact that if we train for ourselves, what good is it to the rest of the world? One life in this world is a blink of the eye in all time. And in the greater scheme of things, what is the good of one person's achievement, if not shared with others? For soldiers, they train to keep themselves alive, but the motivation is greater when they have family, children and friends. It should be understood that death and life cannot coexist within one individual's time. When death comes, life is already gone, so why fear death; it is irrational to do so. The fear lies in the process of dying. However the motivation to the soldier is that he may not know his own death, but his loved ones will, so their death is a mean to hurt loved ones, and therefore the solidier trains for their loved ones. "There is nothing more dangerous then someone who has nothing to lose".
To seek fame in the martial arts is perhaps a low point, to become famous by understanding however is a different subject. When one is looking for fame, from the traditions of the martial arts, or in other aspects of life, it is not about others, it is not about what they are doing, it is completely about the individual. Fame in it's simplest form acts as an ego boost to those who are completely aware of how they are becoming famous, or purposely seeking fame. Most of these people train not to preserve the martial tradition, but to use it as a personal advantage, and aid the ego. Some, though few may seek fame to spread the art, but few can keep it from transforming their own reasons for study. The ego is a dangerous part of the personality, if not properly controlled through conscience and rational thought, it can have devastating effects on the individual, and will prevent them from forming into a rational being or to a level of "mature practice". This path is far from the intention of the Traditional Martial arts.
Hobby-ism as stated can be on several levels, the first, which creates problems, is a hobbyist in denial. Hobbyist who are in denial see themselves as committed practitioners, however only when convenient to their life. Many of the reasons these people do not train as hard are, because "I don't feel like it today", or "I don't need to". However, we all need to, and should. There are legitimate reasons for not training, but these barely qualify. And when the individual realizes that they see themselves as committed, but are indeed far from training as hard as they could, they have a mix of emotions, or cognitive dissonance, because their training routine does not match their mind set. The other form of hobbyist is the one who understands they are such, and if they were willing, could progress to a committed and "mature" study. There is no cognitive dissonance involved here because their thought pattern does indeed match their level of study.
A truly committed practitioner, moves beyond a desire based model of study. This in short, means they do not rely on how they feel to decide whether they will train. They simply train. The mind set is one step ahead, because of the rationality of thought, knowing they have to practice to advance. To think you will be at the same level as this person only training when one desires too, is much the same, as saying ten pounds will fall off you even if you do nothing. Training is essential to progression; there is no way around this. If two people train, one only when they desire, the other regardless of whether they, at the moment, desire to, then it is obvious which will be at a higher level of understanding.
Then why is it we should train? Is it for ourselves, for others, for society, for the art? To train for the self, is egocentric and not beneficial to the greater scheme of things. To train to keep the art alive is crucial to the art's survival and unarguably a reason. So perhaps the answer is we train for others, to keep society in a nonviolent state. To train in martial arts, as a friend has told me, is to train in a mind frame of satsujinken; "the sword that cuts down evil". However one must also embody katsujinken; "the sword that gives life". "The sword that cuts down evil is the sword that gives life". When we train for the greater of society, we train to keep evil suppressed, which allows life to flourish. In a society that we do not train "to cut down evil", evil will prevail, killing life when it sees fit. This is demonstrated in law enforcement, which is indeed a contributor to the suppression of evil. Without the officers, and the laws society passed, we would live in a much more violent world. Even when we train to protect ourselves, why are we doing it, would we work as hard if we had nothing to live for? So training in the Martial arts allows us to be able to maintain that level of nonviolence, to suppress it when necessary. We should view our martial training as a means to keep the innocent safe, to keep society stable, and to "cut down evil" to prevent endangerment of life. This principal applies to a lot more then aikido, but it does fit into aikido nicely, as a means to bring harmony to the world.