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Walking the Old Ways

A Modern Day Look at Practicing the Martial Arts

The modern world poses interesting challenges to us all.  We are in constant danger.  Not from physical violence as much as some would think.  No, this danger is far worse, because it is comfortable.

This danger is one of complacency. 

We, as a society, are not active enough.  We sit behind our desks, doing paperwork.  Each digit representing the sweat of those who put their bodies on the line for the least amount of praise.  Our stress grows every day, as does our waistline. More and more risk of illness arises from this lack of physical toiling.

I, for one, have never been a big fan of sitting around behind a desk all day, rotting away to nothing.  Many people feel the same way.  The growth of the fitness industry is proof of that.  There is a new gym going up every month, and specials run to keep monthly fees as low as their competitors. Everyone is on the fitness kick, but few stick with it.  Why is that?

I think it has to do with the monotony of going to the gym, not the level of difficulty. It is the same thing, over and over.  You move from one machine to the next, only pausing long enough to change the music in your earbuds. That is why I don't keep the motivation to go to the gym for long.  The shiny newness wears off, and soon, it's just another numb, robotic routine. 

Instead, I trade in some of that gym time for something a little more challenging, a little more stimulating, and a great deal more interactive. 

I study karate.

It has offered me a unique way to release the stresses of the modern world.  I learn to do new techniques or new tactics pretty regularly. It keeps me engaged, and thus, I am far more motivated to go back.  The sense of accomplishment is also much higher.  There is something very satisfying about knowing that my goals are lofty, but I can still reach them.

It also offers a glimpse into another time and place, a part of humanity that I feel we have all but lost.  This being the practice of humility, the act of benevolence, and the sense of honor.  No screens to glow into our minds, no text messages or emails to stress over, and no social media to taint my view of the world.

When I step onto the dojo floor, it is just me, and the others with me, and the echo of warriors past.

And if, by chance, I do find myself in physical danger...well, I am a bit more prepared for that, too.