Big words from little man

While we speak, wars are being conducted at various places of the globe. But the world, as we experience it, has not seen a major war (of a global scale) for more than half a century. People from all walks of life are taking this great period of peace for granted.  And thus, one parameter is, that they tend more and more to use military and martial expressions in their daily vocabulary with ease… This is being done light-hearted, without much consideration and, above all, without realizing what it really is, they are talking about. If you take an extended announcement of a company for instance, you could use a pen and while reading it, underline the vocabulary I am talking about. You will not go far in order to find that it is full of “strategy” “aggressive takeovers” “powerful weapons” “allies” “hostile environments” and more… all of them metaphorically speaking of course. The “I will kill you” expression, or any variation of it, is naturally avoided. But extensive use of it is made even from parent to child, metaphorically speaking of course. “I will kill you if you do this…” It even sounds much better than any kind of swearing.

We drift little by little into a territory of talk that has little or non gravity, in the sense of “making good for your word” and there is nothing to talk about doctrines like “…think what you say and say what you mean…”

The freedom of speech has overextended itself into things being said that have little or no respect about terms…

Last but not least, silence is golden no more… it has become scrap, second hand waste material… And there is more. “How to talk back” and “how to defend yourself verbally from a verbal aggressor” is actually being taught as a “parameter” in schools that are considered as Martial… leaving me at a loss of words.

More than just Dojo etiquette                                                                        
Coming in and out of a Dojo, should mean that you don’t socialize in the same manner as one does privately, among friends or as one does at a cafeteria… Entering a Dojo should mean entering in silence, undress in silence and if one has something to say, it could be creative… we could always speak about matters of our own Dojo. Private affairs could be left for outside the Dojo, for later… One can be free and talk himself to death if he likes, but let’s stay quiet while in it.

After having entered the Dojo it is time to enter the tatami. Practically this should be an act as if entering a war zone. It can be a place of simulating a war zone and yes it can be polite and even friendly in manners but absolute silence is of the essence here… in other words and put as simply, direct and martial… do shut up! The negotiations class is one floor down to the left if you want to attend it and there you can speak all day. For the diplomats lessons you are in the wrong building.

Martial Arts are when the above has failed, or even better, when you were “surprise” attacked and you had no time to talk with your aggressor.

A few hours without a word (and while being awake) is good for the soul and it rests the tongue. It could be considered as a Zen practice. More important is that you will be prepared in a case of a real engagement, when you will be needing every breath for yourself, and no kind of distractions, especially from your own self (since habits never die when you want them to). If none of this ever happens and you will be so lucky to stay out of the way of being assaulted in any way over a period of a lifetime (lucky you!) you will still have learned the ultimate lesson of self-confinement and you will have given yourself, your classmates and your Sensei what we call… a break.
Cat got your tongue? I hope not… Because regardless of keeping silent while in practice, a well trained warrior does know when to speak, what to say, how to say it, and uncommonly and old-fashioned as it may sound, he is a man of his word…

Talking is a form of art. We should look around us, and learn. Leaders talk their way through, towards power, while people simply follow… If I sound like disliking politicians, please note that politicians have brought this on themselves. Not all of them, but certainly the majority of them. We all know the sign where a person wears a helmet and swings a shovel, and under it says “Men at work”. The equivalent sign for a politician could say “Men at… talk”

Warrior’s talk                                                                                                    
There is a model of how a warrior handles his talk since warriors have been around long before anything else. And since “we are in Japan” our model is the noble Samurai and the ancient Bushi from which the Samurai sprang.  A nowadays Martial Artist (I will not use the term modern, modern are my… jeans) should be elegant in his talk, well refined and, above all, very-very careful with words, just as all warriors were before him. It is a… recipe that cannot fail.

Tough talk, threats, shouting, jabber, innuendoes, double talk, slang and so on, have nothing to do with the way of the warrior… which brings us back to the beginning! One is never to use Martial (or military) expressions in his everyday language. Maybe every other person does it, but every other person is not a trained/ in-training Martial Artist. Let’s put it in another way… A gentleman who has been brought up with care and the right education would never swear, now would he?

In the same way a Martial Artist is not to use terms lightly, terms that he above all should know best of!  And there is no point in using them even in the case he really intends to bring them into action...

February 12, 2010