Toy Story

Sitting waiting for a private class to come in and my mind drifts to how many times I have sat on the floor waiting for people to come and learn the arts I teach. My mind drifts back to all the people I have taught in my martial arts career, when I made the leap to teach fulltime, there were very few instructors making a living at doing that unlike today; martial arts have become so like the consumer culture of today;  

A toyshop of Martial arts.

I think back to when I started the arts, I had to travel all around the world from a very young age (gaining my black belt in Ninjutsu at the age of 20 years old) to gain the knowledge I have, and the 35 years of practise has helped to develop me as an artist and a human being. People nowadays seem to demand that you pamper them, and if you can’t give them (in their eyes) what they want you are thrown away like an old broken toy. I know the development of martial arts have grown, but has it grown into a “pot noodle “culture? Were it being ready in 5 minutes and if it is not all hell breaks loose. Looking at kids of today, they seem to have lost their patience, if the site they are googling does not pop up in an instance their whole world falls apart, or they don’t get an instant replay from their friends they spiral out of control.

 (they hate me, they are blanking me, I am never speaking to them …. Wait! they have text back the world is in order again)

When I started training we were firmly told it would take many years of dedication to learn the arts, and we excepted that because I was brought up watching Kung Fu (young grasshopper) on the television. This filled me with awe watching people dedicating their lives to learn about the arts, and about themselves in the process. Somewhere from me starting the arts and now the patience has gone (about 35 years), and impatience and the student is always right culture has risen in its place.

When little Jonny goes into a martial arts dojo nowadays after his first “taster” session he is signed up locked in and bigged up unbelievably to the point of embarrassment. They even charge you more for a special programme, and you hang a black belt on a wall as your goal; they are missing the point of martial arts, it is the journey that makes you not the goal.

Some days I have what you might call an out of body experience, where I step away from my physical being, and look down on myself getting choked or punched in the face and think why am I letting someone do this to me or this really hurts today! Jumping back into my body I get on with the class in hand and try to forget about the pain in my muscles where people have practised punching them or the pain in my wrist elbows and shoulders were someone locked me so hard I have lasting damage in most of my joints. Like a well-used (abused) toy after the naughty lad from the toy story one has had his hands on you.
Speaking of toy story, I must admit I do feel like Woody from time to time when Buzz Lightyear comes on the scene. You get students they train with you for a few years then all of a sudden, they see someone or something else they want to train with because it is becoming popular or trendy, so just like Woody it feels like I get tossed in the corner like the old cowboy doll that I am. I have no wings or laser beam and they are the next must have toy! I really sympathise with Woody because you just don’t feel that you can compare to the Buzz Lightyears of the martial arts world.

This is a martial arts toy store for everyone nowadays and if you are not careful before you know it you are at the back of the shelf in the corner hoping one day you may be found, and sold in the out of date stock sale! It might just be my age catching up with me … (don’t say a word) or it could just be my ego being hurt, as I can’t roll around the floor for hours grappling or sparring for hours at a time due to the thousands of hours I have spent helping other people get better, for them to throw me away like an old broken toy. I have a lot of knowledge inside me but as in toy story, I have ripped a seam here and there, my pull cord is not working and I look like I have been well used.

This may seem like a sad and melancholy blog but sometime like Woody I hide my true feeling as I have been taught to endure without complaint, and pass on the knowledge to the next generation. I sometimes feel like I have sacrificed a lot of me in mind, body, and spirit for people to learn the arts. It has brought me so much happiness but also my fair share of pain and suffering. I have changed my thoughts about helping everyone I now try to not get hurt either physically, emotionally, or spiritually and hopefully like Woody find that renewed passion in the arts and the people in them.

In my writing, I know I can reach out to more people around the world and I don’t think I can get hurt writing unless I fall off my chair or run out of de-caffeinated coffee!

Until next time,

Give a thought to your old toys,

Big love from the AFC.

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