Everyone has *something* to offer

I admit it. Sometimes, when it comes to martial arts, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I’ve studied some form hand-to-hand combat style for nearly three decades. During that time, I’ve subdivided the martial arts into those who are serious (typically includes Okinawan, BJJ and Muay Thai school), and those who aren’t (the “McDojos” of the world).

In fact, I currently have another post in draft about how to know if your school is “good”. It is long and maybe a tad self-righteous… and there might be a reason that I haven’t hit “publish”.

Normally, when I walk into a new serious school, I’ll wear my white belt which is dingy and even bloodstained. I tell myself it is because I am being humble. But I won’t go to a “non-serious” school. I mean… what could they really offer me? That doesn’t sound much like humility.

Keep to the beat!

So, a funny thing happened the other day, that got me thinking about my viewpoint and the massive chip on my shoulder. Sensei Rob had to cancel class due to work conflicts. Instead of taking my youngest son to karate, I took him to his swim practice at the local rec center. I still had on my gi pants.

My original plane was to find a corner of the rec center or one of the workout studios to go over kata or something. Then I decided to check the course schedule and saw “cardio kickboxing”. I went.

My mental image was one of Billie Blanks, some happy music, and spandex clad cardio kickboxers with so-so form. And really, minus Billie Blanks, I wasn’t far off… but I think that, despite not really knowing much about it, I underestimated this class.

Look, we’ve all had those classes in the dojo (and nearly every day in a BJJ school) that are simply draining. About five minutes in, I’m thinking “what the hell did I just get myself into??”

Jab, cross, hook, knee…

There were two things that were obvious to me. One, I was probably the only actual trained fighter in that studio. Two, it didn’t matter. I was in Billie Blanks’ world, not in a dojo, not on a mat, and not in an alley.

Get in your horse stance, and squat pulse…

Fifteen minutes in, it is slowly dawning on me… uppercut, uppercut, hook, hook… that I have another forty minutes of this.

Burpee, bob and weave, bob and weave, burpee…

So I embraced the suck, and accepted the class for what it is… a golden opportunity.

Alright class, next combo is with side kicks. Remember to chamber your leg.

I’m going to try and work on my form, to the beat, and try not to get sloppy.

Class was over, and I was drenched. It felt great.

At the moment, my two regrets are that I severely underestimated this class, and that it conflicts with Sensei Rob’s class because I would definitely go back.

Wrap up

That class made me a better martial arts. It wasn’t because I learned any new techniques or got instruction on my form or kata… It was because I had my butt handed to me in a cardio class that uses something that I’ve been doing for a long time as the vehicle for getting into shape… and I enjoyed the challenge.

More importantly, it makes me realize that the pool of schools with nothing to offer is significantly smaller than I had originally thought. If they are teaching dim mac (death touch), run away. Otherwise, maybe try and keep an open mind. I think I will… and I have some revising to do to that other post…

Until next time.

The goal of the Shindokai Kobujutsu Research Society is to join the efforts to restore information that was lost about the traditional Okinawan martial arts and elevate their status legitimate self defense systems that are applicable to our times. In some cases, we can piece together bits of information that is scattered around the world like a bunch of forensic historians. In other cases, we just have to experiment with concepts, just like the forbearers of karate did, and figure out what works (and then ditch the rest).

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