Until a few years ago, martial arts was something that was always just entertainment for me. Like many kids, I grew up watching shows like Dragon Ball and Avatar, both very heavy with combat, and was a huge fan of The Karate Kid; but I never thought of trying it myself. As I said, it was just entertainment. Things only changed years later, in my early teenage years when a friend of mine offered to take me to the gym. And while this doesn’t sound like much on its own, I was a really inactive kid throughout my first two years of high school and had kind of given up on myself; in fact, I only agreed to go because I respected this friend more than most.
We started going a few times a week over summer and I could feel myself physically, mentally and spiritually changing. I gained a massive amount of confidence and learned my own value; after this, I considered this friend a type of mentor. So naturally, when that same friend asked me to take Wing Chun classes with him, I agreed immediately.
The idea behind Wing Chun is to redirect your opponent’s force instead of relying solely on power, because of that the art was really fun. There was a subtle grace to the practice yet the senior members made it look deadly during sparing… I was in- and took the class for a few months. Unfortunately, I had to drop because of my schedule, but by this point, I was hooked on martial arts.
One year down the line, this (and problems with a girl) would lead me to join Muay Thai, the art I practice now. Wing Chun and Muay Thai are surprisingly similar in terms of philosophy; the former says to keep control in life in order to make the best decisions possible, while the latter tells one to train the body, mind, and heart, so good decisions will follow.
Where these arts perfectly align is the belief that fighting should only be done when absolutely necessary. Hurting another human is a tough idea to learn, and it took me hours of sparring to finally clear the mental roadblock. But when you or those you love are in danger, fighting may be necessary, and in some real-world situations, there’s no way around it. So, if someone were to attack first, there would be no hesitation to strike back if I consider them a danger.
There’s a scene in the Ip Man movies that captures this perfectly. After the Japanese invade there’s a major food shortage among residents of Ip Man’s invaded town; it also just so happens that the Japanese general in the town likes martial arts, and offers a bag of rice to anyone who beats his soldiers in combat.
Long story short, Ip Man avoids this unnecessary conflict until his friend is killed earning rice. What follows is an amazing scene where Ip Man takes on multiple Japanese soldiers at once, and eventually, a scene where he fights the general, all because they provoked first. This scene is downright inspiring and eases some of the moral burdens of hurting someone else. In my case, seeing that fighting isn’t always “bad” has helped me spar without pulling all of my punches, since both myself and my sparring partner may need the experience one day.
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