Many people take an interest in martial arts because they treasure the image of a righteous and powerful do-gooder, also known as ‘the super hero complex.’ My goal is to inspire or re-inspire the superhero in you! Yes, there is irony here, but there is and has always been irony in martial arts.
Not too surprisingly, many people have tried to find an antidote to this irony by carrying a gun or pepper spray, or some other magic bullet. And there are a whole slew of “reality based” martial arts, which (of course) are not. Martial arts irony is robust.
Planning for a possible sudden attack at sometime in the future requires fantasy--lots of fantasy. And fantasy requires an enormous amount of energy to maintain. The best answers in self-defense are based on asking, what kind of person am I? and what kinds of violence are statistically most likely to happen to me. But identity isn’t set in stone, it requires a lot of fantasy and effort to maintain, and if you use violence statistics to minimize risk, your risk starts getting very small. So the Daoist answer to the problem of persistent irony in the practice of martial arts is to invest in the power of emptiness.
And then to pile irony on top of irony, in discovering this natural emptiness we also discover our inner super hero powers. Wow.
Why are there so many naysayers? What is wrong with knowingly entertaining ourselves? What is so contemptible about delighting in self-discovery? In exploring the possibilities of human nature?
No doubt, some will poo-poo this idea by saying that what is learnable always falls within a clearly discernible and measured curriculum. But I say to them: what is most exciting to learn happens in the face of dark chaos. And I venture that where there are many short-cuts, there are as many blind alleys.
Would you stake your identity on being an effortless emptiness super hero?