A couple days ago, I was walking down the bike path that we have in my part of New York, enjoying the fact that there was nobody out there. Just myself, and the woods. Usually it's pretty crowded, especially during the pandemic and people wanting to get outside.
After a while, I came across two people walking towards me. As we I got closer, I noticed that it was a couple. Closer, I was able to see that they were a bit on in their years, maybe mid seventies, a couple holding hands, husband and wife mot likely.
They too were enjoying this brisk winter day. Closer, I noticed the gentleman was holding something in his other hand. And closer, getting ready to say, 'Good afternoon', I noticed that he was carrying a baseball bat. It was legitimately a Louisville slugger. Yes, branded into this classic purple baseball bat!
It appeared he was trying to show a somewhat intimidating presence, an I'm not gonna get messed with now kinda thing.
What would cause someone to go on a beautiful walk with their wife, enjoying nature, enjoying this beautiful day and feel a level of potential threat, that would cause them to carry a bat by the handle?
Maybe he got bit by an off leash dog on the bike path.
Maybe he was assaulted.
Maybe his wife was victimized at some point.
Maybe he just wanted to show that he wouldn't get messed with.
I thought about myself, where will I be in those years when my body may not have the physicality or ability to call upon the skill set that I've built as a lifelong martial artists. Would I be able to defend myself or my wife or loved one?
The answer came to me.
I want you to consider this perspective; do not envision yourself entering your golden years, moving into later life with a feeling of being intimidated by your body aging.
Instead, become empowered! Here's an example.
In my martial arts school, we have systems of stick fighting, from 6 ft staffs to small sticks. They were used throughout history in many different ways. The samurai would use them for spears as halberd. Shinto priests would use them in rituals and the yamabushi (mountain monks) would use them as walking sticks, meanwhile being very proficient using them as weaponry.
As well there were the European traditions, such as Welsh pole arm fighting. The Spaniards have their own style of stick fighting.
The outcome of this constant pole-arm training is as the Masters have taught us; to become upright, model men by developing a higher sense of consciousness.
I know that this sounds ethereal. Most of those who look to the martial arts practices with an eye of utility and combat will understand that a stick is a great weapon because every closet has a broom. A stick is a great weapon to train, because they're easy to find and use... well, that's a very shallow way of looking at the outcome of your training.
Whether it's MMA, Judo, Tai Chi or whatever the craft, if you are training, you are elevating your consciousness.
And when you arrive at those moments, during those years where you should be enjoying the beauty of the time, whether it be with someone you love or whether you're just looking out at all that you've produced - you should not live in a state of fear.
You will not feel the need to carry a baseball bat on every beautiful day.
Rather, you will find confidence in knowing that the decades of consistent, rigorous training you have applied throughout your life will naturally be called on, if truly needed. Should a threatening situation happen, your response will come naturally in whatever adaptive way is necessary.
This is what the Masters mean by having a heightened level of consciousness.It's certainly one of many, many pathways.
When we talk about stick fighting in the martial arts, a stick is a straight weapon. And even though us, as as men by nature become bent over time, broken, hurt and often struggling - training with the stick will continue to keep our energy in alignment.
It is very honest, it won't lie, it won't give you an opportunity for error. And the more you pursue a mind efficiency of movement, then your outcomes will become greater and greater. It creates more space internally by lessening stress, exerting physical energy, extending your energy outward ... it allows you to think more clearly and respond more appropriately to those difficult situations.
Yes, you can get better at locking an arm, breaking a hand or choking someone ... but those are mere tools acquired from the training, used to patch problems and fix dangerous problems. It's the training that creates the outcome, not the tool.
I invite you, as you imagine your golden years, that you consider the depth and commitment of your training to not cease, but to have your perspective possibly change. Have it change towards elevating your consciousness, elevating who you are emotionally and mentally, and knowing that should a threatening situation ever happened, where you might need a baseball bat, that you will naturally fall back on your training. However, it will be certainly dependent on the commitments and investments you make now.
Trust in yourself.
JUNE 28TH, 2019
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