“For a fistful of… Euros”

One of the things that made me a Star Trek fan was the idea of a distant and advanced for mankind future. And in that fantasy future, money, economy, and along with it the entire system that “makes the world go ‘round” is for ever extinct.
Man has found other ways to measure value…

It has been almost half a century since the legendary original series was launched and what was our progress… here on Earth?
Let’s see: We duplicated Star Trek’s… sliding doors, we all carry “communicators” and why not mention that some of us have learned to neutralize a person, just like Mr. Spock did, with the slightest and non violent effort!
But we haven’t made any progress on the money issue. On that part, my/our “fantasy come true” suffered a crash landing into a harsh reality…
Because every time when it comes to the money making process, nothing ever seems to change. And the science fiction advanced civilization, turns itself into a… western. In one of those with a bad end, that leads you straight into a showdown. Now where did I leave my gun…?

Fortunately, in the world of Martial Arts money rules don’t apply much, since I have never seen anyone who did progress his Aikido training, just because he had more money to spend in that direction.
On the contrary, I have seen far too many people leading their training into a wrong direction, simply because they “followed” their money.
You see, after all, you can not buy out your training.

The “exotic” travels to the East (in order to find the original country of an Art) will always leave a strong impression on both, us and others.
But in the long run they will not cover the distance of practice, of those who stayed behind doing their “homework”
The well paid seminars and the hunt of becoming an “inside” student, did give some experiences, the least.  
But sooner or later, you will be confronted by those who won’t back off, only because you have given yourself a name.
And the rank hunt (by any means) can fill up a wall with papers, have a good sound in introducing yourself, and are fancy to advertise. But they are never truly respected by a true old warrior. And ironically, not even by those who persue them in the exact manner! Since in the Martial Arts all that remains at the end of the day, is what you can act…

Put in a single line: The expensive sword will not improve the hand that wields it, and a collection of swords calls out, to choose the one!

Does this mean that we should never travel for training? Does this mean that we should not search for a better teacher or Dojo?
Of course not, but it surely means that one can be seriously distracted by applying “shopping rules” for his Aikido. 
Modern man has become so much of a consumer that he thinks he will buy his way (Way!) through everything.
You can practice the Art because it is taught to you, but if you want the Way to open for you, it will take a different approach and state of mind.
In a money making world, where everything is valued and measured by gold, the Way refuses to be for sale or for profit.

One might point out here, that there are many who profit from Martial Arts.  In fact they make money and fortunes beyond imagination, and their fame will last… forever.
I will answer yes, they do (and by the way, I would be only too happy to have a piece of the pie too). But if you go into the trouble and take a careful closer look, you will see what they are selling, is far from being the Way…

All you need is a wooden stick and true commitment…
It does not make a difference if you’re standing at one of your villas and be in a position to afford the “best” of teachers.
It does not make a difference if you have found a spot at an abandoned factory in your shitty neighborhood (excuse my French)
The Way is gained by practice, and practice can not be measured by gold.

(And let’s keep in mind that purchase of Gi, training weapons, plus a monthly expense for being a member at a Dojo, hardly qualifies as participation in the “money making” system. Even a good sword is practically an item that can be bought once and last for a life time…)  

But always remember that it can work also the other way round.
When it comes to earning money, one should be “down to earth” and have no illusions. Some students, carried away by “the Way” and influenced by the greatness of the Art, often adopt a “Kwai Chang Caine style of approach” towards life. Eventually this will put them on a very weak spot, when it comes to the realities and power of money.
I know best, since I am the… inventor of this particular mistake!
For example, it is an Aikido must, that in order to progress in the Art you should be totally open, and spend yourself practicing without hesitation…
Try this at work, at your business etc. and you will be destroyed.
In business you have to apply modern management and principles. In the real money making world, you can only play by the applied golden rule:
Suit up, wear a smile, draw fast, and shoot to “kill”. Period…

This world doesn’t seem to be ready for the Master’s Art, well at least not as he intended it.
But Aikido nobility takes no space, you can carry it inside of you with no effort, and it can wait there, until they… beam us up!

“The warrior’s gold is steel”

September 24, 2007