What style of martial arts should you learn?

What style of martial arts should you learn?

You know … I had some pretty amazing insights earlier today during my walk down to the beach and back, but now I can’t remember them. I was thinking “Wow .. I should totally write about that in my journal.”

Oh well … how annoying.

Anyway, today was pretty productive. Well … sort of. Got up this morning and went for a walk and found a swimming pool down by the beach. Only $1.50 per swim session so I’ll be able to do my knee rehab there! Pretty cool.

You know …. as the person who reads all the fanmails that get sent to Jet on the site, there is one fanmail question that is pretty common (aside from the “Can you teach me kung fu?” or “Will you marry me?” questions). A lot of people write to him asking what style of martial arts they should take. Most of the time they don’t even provide any background information either.

I think any competent person will tell you that this is a question that can really only be answered by yourself. And, in fact, I think the question really shouldn’t be “What style of martial arts should I learn?” but more “Why do I want to learn martial arts?” because to understand your motivation for learning martial arts is to understand which style of martial arts fulfills that need. I think most martial artists understand this idea.

One of the fortunate things in my life was that I knew exactly why I wanted to take martial arts when I was looking for wushu. I didn’t want to learn how to defend myself, or grapple with people, or fight off people holding knives. None of the practical applications really appealed to me, which is rather strange I guess. What really appealed ot me was how incredible the forms looked. I was all in to the presentation and aesthetics of it, and what better style suits that than wushu? Of course, now I understand that to do wushu correctly you need to have a good idea of the basic application behind the movements, even if you’re not doing the movements for application’s sake. But still — I wanted to look cool — so wushu was the key.

Anyway, It’s interesting that people so often ask what martial arts they should take … and some even go so far as to say that they hope that martial arts will fill that void in their life that they’ve felt … because ultimately what you gain from martial arts already exists inside yourself. Better self-control, better understanding of your mind and spirit, better focus and determination. All those things already exist within you. Martial arts is just a vehicle which allows you to bring them out, but they were always with you to begin with.

It also seems that many people ask the wrong types of questions. It seems that when someone is asking what type of martial arts they should take they are actually asking “what type of person should I be?” which isn’t a question anyone can answer but yourself. I heard from a parent of a student at Wushu West that there is an Indonesian proverb that says (I’m paraphrasing) that any question you can forumulate in your mind, you already know the answer to. The power of asking questions, is actually pretty significant. The questions you ask yourselves say a lot about, not just what you want to know, but how you perceive yourself and the world.

Think of your brain as a super-computer that has the answer to just about everything you would care to ask it. In fact, this super-computer can create answers even one none existed before.

For example, when something bad happens to yourself what do you say in your head? A lot of people ask themselves “Why did this happen to me?” or “Why do I deserve this?”, but you know what? If those are the kind of questions you’re asking yourself, then guess what answers your brain will provide? It will search your mind for an answer. And even if there isn’t a real one it will create one. “Here! This is why! It’s because that one things happened to you back in Junior High and this is the penalty for it!”. I mean, don’t we all have these cause-and-effect associations in our head that, when we think about it, really don’t make any sense at all?

So, maybe what needs to change isn’t the answer to the question “Why is this happening to me?” but the question itself. Why not instead ask “How can I make this situation better?” And you know what? As silly as this sounds, it actually works. If you ask it to yourself with true intent and purpose and conviction and EXPECT and answer from your brain, your brain will give you one. It’ll show you how you can make the situation better. You could even ask “How can I make this situation better and enjoy the process?” and it will show you that too.

This sounds a bit simplistic, I know, but it’s actually pretty effective. Asking yourself the right types of questions will give you the right type of action-oriented, problem-solving answers that will actually assist you in solving problems, instead of dwelling on the cause or the effect of them.

Just a thought.

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