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To Live and Die

After a hiatus, I am once again teaching martial arts. It has been a while since I put my thoughts, philosophies and insights into a blog. I am once again in that period of limbo when in between jobs I have some time on my hands. At times like this, my mind starts to wander as a deluge of memories and nostalgia comes pouring in.

Seattle Volunteer Park Cemetery over a decade ago; I remember paying homage to my hero, Bruce Lee, as I visited him and his son’s tombstones.  This man was probably the greatest influence on my decision to pursue martial arts. It was a relaxing evening walk as I tried to muster up some inspiration before taking part in a regional full-contact event that weekend.

The way of the warrior is not an easy path, the challenge can be gut-wrenching at times, it may hurt and be nerve-wracking but there is something about it that clicks with me and I need it in my life simply to keep me sane. Martial arts have definitely changed me, not just in terms of skill and conditioning but in having the confidence to not only stand up for myself but to stand up for what’s right.

The gym where I trained at the time was called Lee’s Martial Arts, named after the great man himself. I was my master’s first black belt student and was treated almost like family. My master would drive me to seminars, inter-club sparring sessions and on occasions even to Asian restaurants. Like a sponge, I soaked up the knowledge and skills, not just in martial arts but also in dealing with people and running a martial arts school. My master who originally came to the USA as a student was from a long family tradition of Korean martial artists. To have an influence and a role model like that was very inspirational.

Growing up at school I was always good at maths and science and people would often say that I was too smart to choose a lifestyle that embraces combat and conflict. What most people failed to see is that a fighting style is as much an expression of the spirit as combat. Martial art practice often is one of the first things that get oppressed and driven underground when a nation or a regime subjugate a people.  When I discovered Krav Maga I could not help but get sucked into the background and history of the fighting style, the nation of Israel and the proud and resilient history of the Jewish people.

I do not believe in imperialism and neo-colonialism. Often I look back in shame that Britain has not been able to contribute more to the development of the African nations under its rule as well as for the Maori during the days of colonialism. I feel like I am a good person and the things that I believe in are just and right. I am far from a warmonger and desire peace as much as the next man, but realistically I know there will never be peace.  Years of training in martial arts has made me appreciate work, dedication and discipline. Most of all I understand the meaning of sacrifice; to me, a man who has nothing to die for has nothing to live for.

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