Isn’t this Jedi training?
I was asked this question last year by a very excited young male student while teaching a class on old style qi gong.
“No,” I answered, “This is where the thought of Jedi training comes from.”
You judge for yourself, but be patient, I’m going to get there in a roundabout way.
As a school owner, I have the advantage of seeing what the latest industry trends are and how the market is moving in martial arts. The latest greatest thing has been the push toward integrating life skills into martial arts training. When done honestly and correctly, it is a very valuable addition to modern American martial arts.
The successful, national schools in America have actually always had this training integrated into the curriculum. It is one of the many reasons that successful schools are successful. The industry thought is that if this training is reproduced then it will help less successful schools become more successful.
THE BIG Error with the New Martial Arts Fad
The problem with the thought is simple,” What qualifies some Joe martial arts instructor to be teaching squat about life?”
I’m not saying that American instructors aren’t technically skilled. I’m not saying that they’re not good coaches.
A good coach does know a lot about human behavior. But would you expect your basketball, soccer, or football coach to be the guru on life skills?
No, you wouldn’t.
The truth is that most martial arts instructors in America usually do not have a college education. They have a very poor knowledge of history. They are not trained priests. They know very little about psychology or physiology. When life skills work, they would have no idea of why. When the training doesn’t work, they have no idea why.
The industry solution has been to market small kits on life skills. That’s like giving a man in a desert a teaspoonful of water.
It’s well intentioned, but it doesn’t change anything, and it’s kind of ridiculous.
Now, let me tell you how its been done in the ancient world, and how it should be done.
The Right Way
For the last few months, I’ve been giving Masters Club lectures on the Art of War, a Taoist treatise on strategy. In particular, I’ve been focusing on filling in some history details, and explaining things that everyone in ancient China would have known, and that would have been understood going into the text.
There is a common quote from the Art of War that is ”To Win Without Fighting is Best.” The exact words vary by the translation. The translation is almost irrelevant, because the statement is so misunderstood, it could say, ”Poultry is the Ultimate Weapon.” You would get the same usefulness in your life.
Win without Fighting. It’s a great thought, and it’s a catchy phrase, but how would you actually go about doing that?
Keep in mind, “To Win Without Fighting is Best” was not meant to be a mystery. The saying was not meant to have people sitting around pondering the meaning. It was meant to be catchy, to be easily retrieved by memory (ancient text study involved memorizing the text), and immediately and directly useful.
Return of the Jedi
For thousands of years, China and most of Asia has been obsessed with the idea of what makes the ideal, best human, or what was called a Complete Human. Without Fighting comes from that idea. You see, an ideal human had three options for resolving problems:
- Talking Arts (e.g. charismatic speech, deceptive speech, diplomacy, and spying).
To Win Without Fighting is to try to use either trade or talking arts first, and to come to understand what the limits of force are. By that, I mean what can and can not be accomplished through the use of force.
Where else, in our modern culture, do we see this same model of the ideal human reproduced?
The Jedi of Star Wars.
They are masters of the war art, both in physical skills and strategy. They negotiate trade deals. They do talking missions. The tactics that they use also come step by step from the Art of War.
The Jedi are a fictional representation of ancient Asian ideal of the complete human.
Can a martial arts instructor get that from a skills pack he or she bought from a martial arts industry magazine?
No, he or she can’t.
Water Mountain, however, is built to produce such skills.
Weakness or strength. That is the choice made to be part of Water Mountain or not.
Master Mikel Steenrod