If you come into the dojo over the next few weeks, you’ll get to see two of my favorite people, Doug and Stephanie. Many of our adult students have had the privilege of practicing with them when they visit, especially on retreat. Now, you’ll get a chance to see them much more often because they’ve moved here!
Doug and Stephanie join a small group of Sifu Brown’s students who have joined our school in LA. Our two Red Sashes Chris and Kenny are also old students of my Sifu. All of these wonderful human beings had to move away from Michigan for one reason or another, yet were brought to us (eventually) by fate or by will. I’d like to think it’s mostly will, a determination to continue practice, that has brought them to us. I’ll call this an undying spirit of martial arts.
Real Martial Arts
Once you’ve practiced real martial arts, it’s almost impossible to get it out of your mind. I can’t even take a long weekend without starting to feel like something is seriously wrong. Doug and Stephanie moved to Colorado years ago, but couldn’t go very long without practicing. They have visited us here and Sifu Brown in Michigan whenever possible. I usually get to see them a few times each year. They searched high and low in Colorado for a dojo to continue martial arts at, but as many students who are taken away from the dojo have seen, it’s not easy to find something that compares to what we do. Still, they imbued the undying spirit of martial arts and they refused to give up their practice. They always knew they’d find a way back to one of our dojos, and I’m so happy they did.
This sort of thing is pretty rare. There are few things in our lives that we care so much about that they occupy a little corner of our mind no matter where we are or what we are dealing with. For some of us, martial arts is one of those things we just can’t shake. This undying spirit of practice goes with us everywhere. Doug and Stephanie will tell you that it’s very difficult to practice without a dojo, and the truth is it’s impossible to have the same kind of experience when you’re away. But even when you are gone, you (and your practice) are not forgotten. With enough time and effort, we see all things in life through the lense of Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and meditation.
Life as practice
I like to think of my life as a part of martial arts practice, rather than the other way around. Most people compartmentalize their lives and separate practice from other things. Yet this is a lost opportunity. Try thinking of every situation you encounter as a chance to practice mindfulness. Think of every person you deal with outside the dojo as a partner, instead of an opponent. Feel every breath as a tiny meditation.
This undying spirit of martial arts is possible for anyone, though it will not come to everyone. If you plunge headlong into the process of becoming great, greatness will eventually take over—no matter where you are.