Friday, August 31, 2012
Identity, Part II
I'm not really sure what tripped this off, but I figured I'd get it out on "paper" (which is still how I think of this thing) before I start SEVERTEMBER (come back tomorrow for more on that).
One of the things I've struggled with for the last several years was my identity with the martial arts. Specifically, with the idea that I am a martial artist.
I'm sure those close to me are doing something like this:
Which is fair. I've been doing the martial arts for something like twenty plus years now, no matter how you count it. The course of my life has been dictated by my involvement in the martial arts. That is not drama or hyperbole. If I had not found the martial arts, I don't think my life would anything remotely like it does now. I'll leave it for others to wonder if that's a good or bad thing.
The problem that I've struggled with for a while now is this:
I love the martial arts.
I don't love a lot of martial artists.
Martial arts are pretty amazing. At least for me, they have been. They have had an absolutely profound effect on my life, and I really believe that they can do great things for people. A member of a club I visited for a short time once said that he could tell I was a "true believer." There might be something to that. I had something on one of my website versions where I said that I believe the martial arts can have a transformative effect. I still believe that.
The martial arts are also filled with some of the most irritating people I've ever met. Arrogant, pedantic, self-centered egotists, with closed minds and a complete inability to fight their way out of a wet paper bag. While the martial arts have allowed me to have some amazing conversations, they have also drawn me into some amazingly stupid ones.
And the more I got exposed to the martial arts, the fewer martial artists I liked. To the point where I stopped wanting to even identify myself as a martial artist, because I didn't want to be lumped in with these people. I wanted to find something else to call myself, but I couldn't find anything that fit. Combat Athlete seems dishonest, since I don't compete; Warrior is just bullshit, since I don't wage war. I'm sure other things crossed my mind, but it never stuck.
I'm not sure what clicked recently, but I finally became comfortable with the idea that I am a martial artist again. I just have very strong opinions about what the martial arts are and should be, and a low opinion of the way they are taught and trained (at least, in the States). Maybe I can change that. Who knows? Nothing wrong with fighting for change from the inside.