This is your art. It does not belong to me. It doesn’t belong to the black belts, the people standing in front of you, the people in Okinawa who learned and practice these arts for centuries, or people from a golden age of martial arts far away and long ago. To the degree that you practice it, it is yours.
Your life is yours.
People created this art from their experience – from difficulties they faced and solutions they found. From training, trial and error. Selecting what worked, rejecting what did not. Refining the result, and practicing until it was their own.
Through this they changed. We are doing the same thing.
They took what they learned and passed it on to people who needed that knowledge and skill. That was hard work. It takes time and determination. But it was done. Again and again. For generations.
Sometimes it was done well. It brought strength and virtue to the people who learned it. Sometimes it was done poorly. Then the old, half-remembered knowledge had to be rediscovered.
Sometimes all the explorers had to go on were stories and a few vague maps. But they went ahead. A few found what they were looking for.
We take our lives seriously. We have a rare opportunity to use what we have. To make the most of this time, this body, our minds, our family and friends, our world. The opportunity will not last.
The need for this knowledge is urgent. The moment when we need it may come as a surprise.
It may not. We can apply it in every moment.
Whether we succeed depends on whether you succeed.
This is your art. If you take the challenge, if learn it well.
There is a limit to force. There is a limit to power. There is a limit to harm. There is no limit to mastery: in a life, a dojo, a community, or in the world.
That is easy to forget at a time like this. Remember, even now, in the smoke and fire of brutality, rage and greed: with proper cultivation, you can achieve more than you can imagine.
Post and photo copyright © 2023 Jeffrey Brooks
Read True Karate Dō –
“One of the best books I’ve read in years, inviting and compelling.
Jeff Brooks moves effortlessly from martial arts to Buddhism to consciousness studies, self-transformation, and related fields in this wide-ranging and Illuminating study that has much to offer both novice explorers and veteran practitioners.
A splendid achievement.”
— Philip Zaleski, Editor, The Best Spiritual Writing series
— Co-author, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams.
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