Mastery Beyond The Physical Level

To become a true master of the martial arts a person must practice the art as a way of life. A person must go beyond just showing up at the school once or twice or even three times a week. You must practice at home as well. You must train in all techniques – blocking, punching, kicking and forms. In his book, Hara, Karlfried Graf Durckheim writes of the true master. He states, “One speaks of a master only when success is achieved not only now and then, but with absolute certainty.”

However, even with all the practice of technique you must still go beyond technique, beyond the physical level. Again from Hara, “Certainty of success presupposes more than perfected skill alone. What is this more? It is the state or condition of the performer which makes his performance infallible.”

How do you achieve this level of certainty, of infallibility? First, you must train hard. All top athletes train several hours a day. The top Judo players, the best Olympic Judo performers and the competitors at the world karate championships all train day in and day out on technique. This is the first level, the first step. But to become a true master of the arts requires something more – something beyond the physical level.

Mr. Durckheim writes, “…as long as the man using it (a technique) is subject to moods and atmosphere, unrelaxed and easily disturbed, then he is master only in a very limited degree. He is master only of technique and not of himself.”

In other words, you must not allow outside forces to influence you. You must remain calm and in control of your emotions. This is the mark of a true master. While this level of mastery may take years to develop you can start now on this lofty goal.

If a bully on the playground wants to fight or if someone is rude and cuts in front of you in traffic, you must not allow anger to control you. If someone is unfair or teases you, you must rise above it and be the better person.

As a teacher of the arts you must not allow a student, especially a child, to get under your skin and anger you. They are, after all, a child and you are not only the adult but a role model as well.

Your martial arts training can lead you in this. By training hard at the physical level, working techniques over and over, you are developing strong habits. You develop discipline and focus. You create a strong sense of control. As you improve in your technique you also develop confidence in yourself and your ability to defend yourself. Knowing how to defend yourself also gives you the confidence to know that you have alternatives to anger, frustration and fear.

All of this helps to bring out the person that lies within you that can stand relaxed and courageous against the bully, the unruly, and the person who is aggressive and rude. You can begin to go beyond the physical level to become a true master of the martial arts.

“…mastery is only that which proves inner maturity.”