For those who truly study budo you understand what I am talking about. Even though in our martial art we often discuss life and death and practice violent physical defensive techniques, budo is not solely about learning to defeat that masked guy in the parking garage, multiple attackers, or even armies. Its deeper purpose is actually about learning to control and defeat just one person. Seems easy enough right? However, this one person is the last person one would ever expect. This is the most dangerous and destructive adversary that you will ever face, the only one who knows all of your weaknesses, the only person who can truly destroy you. If you haven’t guessed already - it’s YOU! You are, and will always be, your toughest opponent. Think about it for a moment….Who has convinced you on numerous occasions that you couldn’t do something? Who has been that one person forcing you to procrastinate in getting something done like losing weight, completing a project, or getting off the couch? Who convinced you that you were not good enough, smart enough or even attractive enough to ask a special someone out on a date, or go for that dream job, or participate in a group activity? Looking back, did anyone other than yourself actually tell you that you can’t? Or, was it that negative voice inside your head the whole time? This is the real reason one should study budo in today’s modern world.
Why do you think most martial art schools advertise that they offer “discipline”, “respect”, “self control” and “self confidence”? One would quickly assume because that is what all martial arts are for and it’s so that you will have the strength, techniques, and confidence to stand up to anybody that would do you harm. And it is…but so much more. It is rarely taught or told up front that your biggest and hardest opponent will actually be you. This deeper reason for studying budo has been lost in many schools because there’s no fun in learning how to defeat themselves. So, this lesson gets pushed aside until later in training until it’s ultimately forgotten.
I tell my students from day One, it’s not going to be easy but once you’re able to face yourself with confidence and quiet that negative voice in your head other obstacles and challenges, whether asking for that day off work or defeating that masked attacker in the parking garage, aren’t so challenging anymore.
If you’re thinking about studying budo, or have already begun, take a moment and consider why you are training and ask how the idea of defeating your personal battles might help you better understand budo’s purpose.