Continuing on my recent trend of gaining knowledge in the least likely of places, I gleaned some important insight from a movie I’ve probably seen more times than I can count. But it’s true; if we’re willing to listen, we can gain wisdom and insight into life, our journey and the martial arts. All one has to do is be willing to do more than sit there and stare idly at the screen, whether it’s the television, your smart device or whatever. But before I go off on more of a rant than I have to, I should stop digressing and get to the bloody point of today’s post…
There’s no denying that the most important aspect of any style of martial arts, is its foundation. Without a solid foundation, a practitioner will never progress or grow beyond the basic elements of a first-day practitioner, nor will they be able to set goals and truly learn the art. Further, someone who somehow muddles through on a weak foundation will always have a weak martial arts constitution and will never truly learn the adapt to the style they endeavour to learn. As they say, the strongest structure built on a weak foundation will still collapse.
I some ways, many ways, learning the martial way is a bit like growing a tree. Contrary to what one might think from looking out at a forest, there are actually quite a number of important factors that have to line up in order for a tree to grow. The right soil, the right sunlight and the right conditions all have to be in play in order for the roots to take hold. However, once the roots DO take hold, the tree will then determine how it grows, depending on all the factors I mentioned above. Some plants and flowers will even turn towards the sun throughout the course of a day. The path the tree takes in its growth is up to the tree; much as the path the martial artists takes to grow is up to them.
When a martial artists begins their training, they’re presented with the basic elements they need in order to learn the martial arts. These basics are the equivalent of the tree’s sunlight, soil and water. Only once these elements are implemented can the martial artist’s foundation “take root.” From there, the martial artists must decide for themselves how they’ll grow and progress. Much like a tree that will wilt and rot under the wrong conditions, a martial artist will also stagnate from taking the wrong direction. Being given the proper fundamentals and allowing the basics take root won’t be enough. The martial artist also has to be positive in their training and daily life.
If we look at the other side of the equation, dropping seeds into a bucket of water may cause them to sprout, but they likely won’t grow and thrive since they’d be missing several key elements needed to grow properly. By the same token, if you learn shitty basics from a McDojo or a poor style, you won’t grow or thrive either. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that you seek out a dojo and style that suits you and fits your overall goals. You also want a Sensei who is engaged and willing to train you in order to cement that starting foundation.
At the end of the day, ensuring you have strong roots is important. Once you have those roots and your foundation is established, how you grow is up to you. Much like the tree that decides its path, you need to decide what kind of person and martial artist you’ll grow into. With strong roots and a strong heart, not only will you achieve whatever goals you seek through the martial arts, you’ll also positively contribute to society in a way that will allow you to shine like the beautiful bonsai tree that you are. Food for thought… ☯️