Sunday, May 29, 2011

Soul Searching

To start with, you are encouraged to mentally cue up something like the closing theme music from the old Incredible Hulk television series (starring Bill Bixby) to set the appropriate tone for this next series of posts.

Yes, I’ve been doing some ‘Soul Searching’ lately in regards to teaching, learning, students, the role of the teacher etc.

Looking back, I never thought that I would ever be a Guru (teacher) in any of the Southeast Asian martial arts that I have been privileged to study. So many years ago, I remember standing in my own teacher’s yard during training sessions - watching in awe of his skill and the skills of the advanced students - thinking “This is so far beyond me, I’ll probably never really get ‘good’ at this…it would be enough if I could just learn it.” A somewhat defeatist attitude to be sure, but I felt like I was being realistic.

This was about 1987-88, long before Youtube and the Internet, when I still held the outrageous notion that a person would at least have to possess a high level of technical skill and understanding to be awarded a teaching license from a legitimate Master of Kali or Silat. I guess either I was wrong to begin with…or times have changed. Today, you certainly don’t need much in the way of skill and understanding to be granted the title of Guru by some (even legitimate) Masters. In fact, a lot of folks these days just skip that step altogether and award themselves the title of Teacher, Master, or even Grandmaster and go about trolling for students. I guess it’s a variation of “If you build it, they will come”…especially if they don’t know any better.

To be continued...