Martial arts have, more than once, been likened to religion in the devotion - bordering on fanaticism - with which many people approach their own particular style. And to a lot of these martial artists that makes their instructor, if not God, then at the very least a major prophet of their creed. And prophets are, quite naturally, not to have their judgments questioned.


Of course the trouble with religious devotion is it tends to make people automatically reject any inconvenient facts that might contradict their beliefs. Too often in martial arts we see people with little knowledge on a topic ardently defend a position simply because it's what they've been told by their instructor. The possibility their instructor might be incorrect never seems to enter their mind. But unless you accept the notion that an instructor is actually blessed with divine knowledge, then you have to consider not only the possibility but the likelihood that he is occasionally wrong. That does not make them a bad martial arts instructor, it simply makes them human.

However many people, including some of the most well informed martial artists out there, seem to forget this fact.

Even martial artists who are normally quite knowledgeable and intelligent, and who are capable of looking objectively at the history or the physical utility of martial arts in a general sense, tend to lose that objectivity when their own style or instructor enters the equation. Because almost all martial artists, no matter how objective in other matters, typically become starry-eyed fanboys when discussing the style they've devoted years of training to or the instructor who's taken them under their wing and nurtured them.

While this attitude is, to a degree, understandable, it's also, in most cases, simply wrong.

Some of this approach is based in traditional Asian models of Confucian learning where an instructor's authority is not to be questioned by his students. And though there might be some degree of benefit in that approach for more novice students, certainly experienced students should not only have the right to question their teacher's words, but should actually feel they have a duty to do so.

Confucius ethics.org.au

By (politely) questioning an instructor on anything that doesn't sound correct to you, you make that instructor think about what he's saying and, perhaps, better clarify his own thinking potentially helping him to learn as well. And if what the instructor tells you does not quite jibe with your own experiences or what you've learned elsewhere, you have to consider the possibility he is simply wrong.

Whether the instructor, himself, is willing to consider that possibility will tell you quite a bit about just what kind of teacher he really is.

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To Master the Supreme Philosophy of Enshin Karate, Look to Musashi's Book of Five Rings for Guidance!

In the martial arts, we voluntarily subject ourselves to conflict in a training environment so we can transcend conflict in the real world. After all, we wouldn't knowingly train in a style that makes us weaker or worsens our position. The irony of all this is that we don't want to fight our opponent. We prefer to work with what an opponent gives us to turn the tide in our favor, to resolve the situation effectively and efficiently.The Japanese have a word for this: sabaki. It means to work with energy efficiently. When we train with the sabaki mindset, we receive our opponent's attack, almost as a gift. Doing so requires less physical effort and frees up our mental operating system so it can determine the most efficient solution to the conflict.In this essay, I will present a brief history of sabaki, as well as break down the sabaki method using Miyamoto Musashi's five elements

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Coach Tony Blauer has been in the martial arts, self-defense, defensive tactics, and combatives industry for over four decades.

He founded Blauer Tactical Systems (BTS) in 1985 and it has grown into one of the world's leading consulting companies specializing in the research and development of performance psychology, personal safety, and close quarter tactics & scenario-based training for law enforcement, military, and professional self-defense instructors.

  • His research on the neuroscience of fear and the startle-flinch lead to the development of the SPEAR System, a modern personal defense system based on physiology, physics, and psychology. It has been used by defensive tactics and combative trainers all over the world for over 30 years.
  • He developed the world's first impact-reduction scenario-based training equipment, called High Gear, which revolutionized force-on-force training for police, SWAT, and military organizations.
  • After decades of interviewing victims of violent encounters and studying violence, he created the KNOW FEAR program which focuses on managing fear through self-awareness, resiliency, and a 'movement' mindset. This program has also been integrated by psychologists helping veterans deal with PTSD.

Tony Blauer Self Defense

Blauer's programs have influenced over three decades of trainers and coaches as well as most contemporary reality-based martial artists. He resides in California with his wife, kids, and dogs, but still travels extensively working with individuals, corporations, and government organizations around the world providing solutions for training, performance assessment and credentialing. His company is dedicated to enhancing the mental and physical safety of everyone they help train.

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