Monday, July 9, 2012

People Who Go Unnoticed

I am at a point in my life where I am realizing how my skills and gifts are to be used for more than just swinging weapons around. At this point in my life, I realize that my calling is to be used for something bigger than just myself or my gratification.

As a kid, I used to be obsessed with martial arts magazines. I remember going to the local library and bookstore and I would dig up copies of Black Belt Magazine, Inside Kung Fu, Martial Arts Illustrated...the list goes on. Every time I would open up one of these magazines, it wasn't uncommon for me to see advertisements with the phrase "I TRAIN THE NAVY SEALs!" or "TEACHER OF THE (fill the in the name of government agency acronym here)!" As a kid, I used to look at these advertisements and I would think about how badass that particular instructor must be. After all, if he trains some Special Operations unit or elite government agency, then they must be excellent martial arts instructors, right? And after all, the goal of any martial arts instructor is to train people to be as badass as he is, right? Well, at this stage in my life, I am realizing that while training elite commandos and government agents is definitely a good thing, I realize that I am setting out on a different path than other people in my field.

Now, let me first state that I have the honor, privilege, and pleasure of meeting, learning, and training under some individuals who ACTUALLY train elite military and government agencies to this very day. These instructors are my heroes, and they are among the best in the world. They are damn good at what they do. Their material is realistic, functional, and they wouldn't be sought after by these elite groups (or myself) if their material wasn't useful to them in real-life combat. However, I keep noticing sketchy individuals in the martial arts industry who either falsely advertise themselves as trainers of these elite units as a means to gain credibility, or they try to gain access to these elite units by networking, moving closer to military bases, etc...all as a means to build credibility to the efficiency of their system. This could be done for a wide-variety of reasons, but essentially, their goal is simple: Associate oneself with badasses and therefore, that makes them, in turn, a badass.

However, I am realizing that while training these elite units and groups is definitely an amazing honor, and while it is definitely something that I myself would love to do someday, I realize that the martial arts community tends to overlook individuals who need combative martial arts training just as much, if not more so, then our heroes in the armed forces or in the law enforcement field. These individuals include the blind, the wheelchair bound, the sick, and the elderly. These people are often overlooked not just by martial arts teachers, but by society in general. These are also the people most susceptible to attack by criminals who wish to do them harm. The fact is that not everyone out there is a badass Navy SEAL or government spook. Most of our society consists of everyday people who want to live the warrior lifestyle someway or another.

As a martial arts instructor, I feel it's important to improve as many lives as possible, and part of that is understanding that everyone has different needs. I believe that fighting is an essential skill, but I want to remind my peers out there that while it's a great thing to be a trainer of the elite forces, it's also just as important to reach out to those who may be overlooked by us everyday.


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