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  • Shihan Kendall

Martial Arts and the Art of Life


The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. --Kakuzo Okakaura

There is indeed an art to living. And to combat (although you, my martial artist friends, know that better than anyone). Both rely on in-the-moment mindfulness, creativity and improvisation for success. A combatant focused only on the outcome of an engagement is doomed to lose it, as they will be unable to react in real-time to sudden attacks or targets of opportunity.

And while I’m not one of those people who believes that life is something to be won or lost, I do believe that we lose out when we fixate on our expectations of how something is supposed to be.

This past Saturday certainly had the ingredients of a disappointment. Our annual Outdoor Dojo is something we really look forward to each year, and something that has always been the source of a lot of fun and pride for our community in years past. A lot of preparation goes into setting our Dojo up at Maudslay State Park among the other Family Day participants, and it’s hard not to build up expectations about what a day of training out in Nature is going to be like.

As you know, Nature had her own plans on Saturday (as she often does). Not too far into the event, the rain began. And continued. And, at times, got a little intense. Yet as time went on and I watched our young students training hard on Dojo mats that had come to resemble a Slip’n’Slide, and enjoyed our Demo Team slipping and sliding without a care in the world through another amazing show, I realized that there was no trace of disappointment to be seen on a single face.

And that is such a testament to the kind of warriors our young martial artists are. Waterlogged and only getting wetter by the minute, these kids weren’t thinking about what they hoped the day would bring. They were busy enjoying the day as it was. That’s toughness. That’s indomitable spirit. And it's creativity: making the very best with the moment given to you. And that’s a prime example of martial artists bringing real artistry to living. I couldn’t be prouder.


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