My style is better than your style. Another variation of this, is my version of said style is better than your version of the same style. What this ultimately leads to is a demonstration of ego in what should be an egoless expression. Where does this sentiment stem from? Usually from those martial artists, who are starting upon the path and get caught up in the excitement of beginning something new and exotic. Inevitably it leads to comparison and criticism.
What you discover over time is that the longer you train the closer the martial arts are in purpose and expression. What does this mean? Well it was not unheard of for advanced practitioners in the past to hold black belts in several different types of martial arts. They believed that it was important to be exposed to different types of martial arts and schools of thought. This is not to say they dabbled in the different arts, jumping from school to school or art to art. They would usually only pursue a second black belt after many years in what they considered their primary art, and even then the training in the second art was just as vigorous and dedicated as the training in what they considered their primary art. Why was this done in the past and why is it not so commonplace now?
It is my opinion that in the past, even though many of the arts were kept secret for reasons of safety (your enemies should not know your most effective techniques) or the preservation of transmission, when like minded practitioners trained, ego was less of an issue than it is today. Today because of the commercial aspect of many schools, students are discouraged to try other styles or methods. What if they like that school, instructor more than this one? What if I lose that student? These are the motivating factors in this behavior from many instructors. What is occurring however is the creation of narrow minded martial artists who come to view their way as the only way.
So what should be our position as martial artists? Realize that there are many paths, but only one way. Respect other martial arts and artists as you would like to be respected and realize that the opportunity to learn may come in many different forms, if we are open to receive the learning.
Martial arts is a summit-less mountain with many paths on its face, upon which you encounter fellow travelers. Some join you on your path and others take divergent paths, but the mountain is still the same.
strong spirit, strong mind, strong body
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