Kuro Obi

What do the martial arts mean to me?

Sensei lent me a DVD called Kuro Obi, or Black Belt. It is the journey of three students of karate that try to understand themselves and the art when their master dies. One of them, who’s skill is not as great as the other two, considers himself weak and cowardly and only ever fights once where he is sorely defeated. Another of them never strikes his opponent, only defending though his skill is tremendous. The third of them fights only to improve himself until there is no one left to better.

I know from the jedi that purity of heart is unrealistic and even destructive. There can never be a vessel that contains pure goodness- the nature of the universe defies the possibility. Never to fight back, when people you love, your life is at stake… It is noble, but foolish.
To fight only for the sake of fighting… What value is there in beating those lesser than you? You are your only worthy opponent. To defeat yourself is the ultimate bliss.
And not to fight at all is indeed the coward’s way- to have power but to be too scared to use it to change the world… The influence neither adds to yin nor yang, it is stagnant and useless.

So why do I study the martial way?
Partially to be stronger, to improve myself so that I might best others. And not only for self-defence and the defence of others; there is a very large part of me that wishes to know my strength. To be challenged and to do battle, as I have never done before. All rules aside, could I defeat another in combat?
To seek purity of body, mind and spirit. I condition my body and focus my mind so that I might be at spiritual peace.
For discipline. Again, to train the body and mind to harbour strong spirit.

As I go stronger, my influence in the world increases. I might yet conquer dojos and reshape Japan, just because I can. Why am I training? What is my goal? Black belt? No, there is no end to improvement. So why do I keep training? Why do I gain strength? Never to wield it is cowardly or impotent, and to use it incorrectly may well be evil. So what do I do?

I wonder why the Tibetan monks trained so hard every day of their lives and still never went mad from the skill they possessed. Maybe their studying Buddha had something to do with it.


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