Thursday, January 12, 2012

詠春 and non-violence; continued...

One of the things I've noticed about the few months I've been doing 詠春, besides how much I continue to profoundly suck at it,  is that of the people who come in new, quite a few don't stay. 

I've no idea why unless there's some economic or health or other scheduling imperative (e.g., family obligations) as to why they don't, which is understandable.  For the others I've no idea.  I mean, if you were tone deaf and you could take guitar lessons from Eric Clapton or violin lessons from Itzhak Perlman, wouldn't you avail yourself of the opportunity?

Of those that do stay, the astounding thing to me is that even with my profound suckiness, even with people who actually have some prior martial arts training, I can in sparring "have my way" with most of them.

For small minority of those newcomers, however, as well as all of the more experienced ones, this is profoundly not the case.  And in pretty much all of those instances, the main stumbling block is my own mind, which brings me to the point of this post.

It's all well and good for folks to want to advocate for non-violent solutions to everything; I think it is the hope of the planet.  But...

If you can't skillfully defend yourself - even just simply to the point where you can gain a momentary advantage to run away - to what extent is this noble position of non-violence a justification for wanting things settled on your terms (i.e., you don't fight no matter what and which might include the loss of face, but hey, maybe you're used to that)?  This is maybe one (of many other) reasons why I think the best practitioners of these arts are pretty relaxed people - nobody's going to walk away unscathed if they're dead serious about messing with them, and even if you run away, it might not involve the loss of face.  Or even if someone starts something, it can be finished in a way that allows for a quick and lasting end to the conflict.

I'm not advocating some kind of return to the early '80s Bernhard Goetz right-wing over-reactions to the impotence one accustomed to non-violence in everyday life feels when confronted with violence.    But it does occur to me that the reflexive calls for "non-violence" and abjuration of all forms of skill which might be useful in fighting situations just might be a form of pride which might be as dangerous to one and others as a cockiness which takes on all comers no matter what the consequences are.

Or is it?


Anonymous said...

Good post, Mumon. Pacifism should not be confused with passivity. They are not the same thing - but many people never wake up to that fact. To avoid fights because you don't know how to defend yourself is a type of cowardice (that I suffered from for many years while believing I was being "superior" and "peace-loving" - I thought "fighting was beneath me"). Thanks to Aikido, I learned differently... .

Mumon said...