Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Balancing the (Martial Arts) Force

I know this comes as breaking news to you regular readers of the blog, but I'm a huge nerd.

I know, right?

So, I was watching "Rogue One" and I got to thinking about this whole "bringing balance to the force" thing in the Star Wars mythos.  Dark side being "bad", light side being "good", and the idea that Anakin Skywalker was supposed to bring "balance" to the force.  I won't nerd out on you too much here (and you Star Wars supernerds out there would end up blowing me out of the water if I did), but I was just wondering...

What does that mean?  "Balance" to the Force?

Well, it's like values and philosophy in the martial arts.

It's a martial arts blog, y'all, you knew I was gonna go there.

Anyway, to my mind, everything we value in the martial arts needs to be balanced.

For example:

Too little courage, and you'll never learn anything new or grow.  Too much courage, and you'll put yourself into situations that are way beyond your abilities to cope with.

Too much humility, and you'll never trust your own skills.  Too little humility, and you'll trust your skills when they aren't good enough to serve you well.

Get what I mean?  More often than not, it's finding a balance between extremes. 

See, if this were a bell curve, you want to stick to the middle, versus being out at the ends.

Wait, is she still using Star Wars as a metaphor, or is she moving to math now?

I think we've all seen situations where someone takes an idea and pushes it to an extreme.  Sometimes the net result is positive, such as when someone becomes a top athlete (although anyone at that level will tell you that there are sacrifices that they make that the rest of us might not want to make).

And sometimes, it's negative. The videos that go around the martial arts online community every few months of the super-fast taekwondo guys from New York is a great example.  That group, while sort of funny to us on the outside, is relatively benign.  It's just an idea taken to an extreme, in a situation where it's not challenged.


Just a snippet. This is real and not sped up.

But sometimes, going to the extreme is downright dangerous.  Believing that their martial art gives them powers, or that their teacher is perfect, or that their school or style is unbeatable.  Believing that martial arts skill grants you authority over other parts of peoples' lives.  This is where we get into cults, into situations where abuse can happen, and where our judgement is impaired.

That's why balance in the martial arts is important.  Be confident, but not overly so.  Become the best at what you do, understanding that there is no such thing as "unbeatable". Trust your teachers, but don't be afraid to use a little healthy skepticism about what you're taught also.

Balance, people.

Tell us about a time you went to the extreme and what you learned, positive or negative.  What's your approach to being balanced?  Do you think that going to an extreme is a good thing?  Let us know in the comments!