Every person has an internal life. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs, imagination, and etc take place in the mind. Our experiences and personality shape our inner life which in turn frames both our perception and response. Depending on stage of life, levels of stress, beliefs and resiliency one’s internal life can be rich and full or fairly shallow.
In my short three years as a ninpoka (In Japanese, “ka” as a suffix means practitioner) , I’ve seen, and read a lot of thoughts on lineage and legitimacy. I’ll take a moment and explain these terms in relation to the martial arts. Lineage refers to the succession of teachers who taught any given art from its inception to you, the practitioner. Legitimacy refers whether, or not, a style is inherently able to teach a person actual self-defense skills. In other words, would this person walk away from a fight intact?
As you might’ve guessed, I’m a woman (10 Awesome Points for you if I didn’t need to tell you that). And, I’m a martial artist which puts in the category of warrior (if you’re someone who believes that the term warrior is only reserved for people who have experienced actual combat, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m interested in discussing mindsets. So, put your diatribe a side and just listen), because I’m training very closely to the ways ancient people did to fight each other in battles and wars. Also, I’m philosophical so I like to think about things and find answers to my questions. Questions like, I represent a minority in the martial arts, why is that so? Why are many women not-so-inclined to become martial artists? Is it too male? Too violent? Too… something? I’ve spent many hours researching the warrior mentality, what it means to be a martial artist as a woman, and etc.
When people talk about the martial arts, most of what I hear is how cool this move was, or that kick, or how flexible or physically skilled so and so was in their competition. Training to hit, kick, take down, and otherwise incapacitate someone is the basic premise of martial arts. Necessity being the mother of invention means she birthed warrior training, and for obvious reasons.
This week in the dojo, both nights were what I call hard training. I was thrown harder than normal (for me) to the mats, my limbs were twisted into painful pretzels, I acquired a few bruises, bumps, went through a round of sparring with five separate attacks I had to avoid or fend off. I got hit in the face. I was put in chokehold. Another person had my face and body smashed into the mats. By Thursday morning I was pretty sore and tired (My chiropractor had a field day with all of the loud CRACKS! my body was making).
I remember sitting on my knees on the mats to the far left, Mark Sensei was beside me asking me what was stopping me from successfully executing ukemi (safely falling). I had been at it for weeks by that point. Fear stiffened my body, either preventing a decent roll, or stopping me altogether. I had to keep going no matter what, but man oh man, was it difficult to push myself into this art.