Over-Stepping Your “Bounds”

 

            As a martial artist, are you really loyal to The United States Of America? Also, are you teaching terrorist tactics by going beyond the “bounds” of your responsibility? The Oxford American Dictionary defines “bounds” as “outside the areas one is allowed to enter.” Some years ago, in 2002, three men approached me late at night while I was along in the dojo. They were of mid-eastern descent and would be in town for a few weeks, according to the spokesman, who spoke in hard to understand broken English. He stated that he was a black belt who needed a place to train the other two men, who were his students. He also wanted to know what I could teach them in a short time period. Three nights in a row I was approached by these same men with the same request. My answer was plain and simple. I do not teach fighting, weapons or deadly techniques to the general public. All perspective students must fill out the five forms that contain all the personal and pertinent information that I need to know about each person. Secondly, all students must begin at the very beginning of our program, and must master the basic punches, blocks, kicks, katas, and stances.

 

            They must also learn our loyalty creed. I stated that we are not interested in teaching short term students, as our particular style of martial art demands years of hard and difficult training to master what we teach. Our art has built in safety valves that totally eliminates training in only specific areas that could do harm to others. We are known as character builders. To do this we need to really know our students, where they work or go to school, their values, temperament, as well as their goals and general outlook on life. In time, we also get to know their families. As the student moves up in rank we are not teaching strangers, we are teaching friends. After three nights of trying to get this message across, these men never returned to my dojo again.

 

            So, this philosophy presents a problem for many instructors, doesn’t it? When we present seminars, summer camps, or special training clinics, we certainly cannot know all those people in attendance. We must rely on the good name of the school and organization that they represent. This is no major problem because we are teaching our particular skill at ground level. In other words, all the folks attending these events are martial artist, so we assume that self-discipline, honor and integrity are present. However, major and potential dangerous problems do occur when martial arts instructors teach individuals whom they are not familiar with, and especially when training or seminars involve lethal topics as weapons and how to use them, firearms, deadly techniques, etc.

 

            The merchandise industry also needs to be held accountable when dangerous weapons such as sharp swords, knives of all types and firearms are sold to the public. Do they know their customers? Some martial art magazines are just as guilty in promoting violence with advertisement such as “Thugs attack you... learn to kill them instantly.” “Deadly strikes, learn how to kill with your bare hands.” “This program turns you into an unstoppable killing machine....almost overnight”. “Learn the killing techniques of the Ninjas”. “For sale, Ninja warrior equipment, grappling hook, steel claws and foot spikes.” All for sale to whomever. You know the ads are selling because they appear in these same magazines month after month. I imagine without these ads the magazines could have a difficult time surviving. No wonder the public views the martial arts as a killing and violent lifestyle. Don’t these trade journals have a responsibility to the young students who read and believe this trash? Shame on you editors and advertisers, for you are promoting violence of the worst kind. Clean up your act!

 

            I once attended a seminar where the participants included children. The instructor was explaining in graphic detail how to cut people’s throats, along with various ways of killing with this very large and sharp knife that he was demonstrating with. This weapon was menacing with its serrated, jagged edges. His words, “shove the knife upward under the liver, twist it and jerk it back out, bringing the intestines along with it.” I was shocked to watch this animal present this seminar. When I approached the host of this event and complained that this was callous, and not in the best interest of the martial arts, especially with children involved, he stated to me that this seminar was scheduled months in advance, and that there was nothing that he could do.

 

            In other words, the promoter was afraid to interfere because he was one of those high ranking paper tiger masters. Meow! This is the perfect atmosphere that terrorists love to be in. Give them all the dirt and grime that they can handle and they will waddle in it. Oink! No true American would take people off the street and train them in such tactics, especially young children. Only the egotistical, glory seeking, money hungry, so-called black belt would do this. They are a shame to the United States and the principals upon which this nation was founded upon. On the plus side, I have attended many Halls Of Fame, trade shows and seminars, and have observed the greatest and most responsible martial artists present seminars that are productive to the advancement of the martial arts, and with information much needed by the serious student.

 

            The great Joe Lewis will show you how to be a more complete tournament fighter. Cynthia Rothrock’s stretching and kata seminars are the tops. George Dillman’s pressure points classes opens up a whole new field of martial arts knowledge. Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s sparring tips are outstanding. The fabulous, vibrant, Bill Wallace, can make you sit in awe as you watch “super foot” kick. Tom Patire’s “CDT” course, whose motto is “Personal protection is not an option, it is a responsibility.” This man is absolutely amazing. The concepts, principles and beliefs upon which our founding fathers built this nation upon are slowly being eroded away by the liberal courts and special interest groups.

 

            At no time in our history has it become more important “to stand up and be counted.” The martial arts are becoming very popular in the U.S.A., and we Sensei, Sifus, Masters, have an awesome responsibility to train our students to be respected, responsible citizens. It does not matter what your ethnic or cultural background is. If you are a citizen of this nation, then you are an American. Most of the time we take our freedoms for granted. We simply forget our roots. Many have fought and died so you and I can live a happy, free, and productive life. Go back in time and slowly read “Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address”. Here is what this common, dedicated, honest man had to say.

It is important that we remember.


Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

 

            Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 

            Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

 

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

 

Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863


            It seems that we are fighting that battle all over again. Read again, “That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” The terrorists are trying to do just that, eliminate our form of government and our way of life. So, the obvious question is, what can you do to stem this eroding tide? Better yet, what can we do, as in you, and I, and us? Well for starters, we can spiritually join together as a band of martial arts brothers and sisters to teach truth and honesty in our classes. If all the hundreds of martial arts schools unite together to teach every one of our students responsibility, dedication and loyalty to our country, we will have a grass roots movement that could be awesome. Martial arts means “military arts”. Our martial arts soldiers will not be defeated by any enemy. We will teach responsible self defense. We will protect the rights of all our nation’s citizens, and we will do so without fear. The war is on. Are we powerful fighters, or are we the condescending majority who do nothing that will affect our comfort zone? Fight or flight, which one?

 

God Bless America.

 

Soke

 

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