Friday, November 7, 2008

Mastery Revisted

I wrote a blog post last year, Banzo's Sword and the Road to Mastery, that discussed the concept of mastery in the context of martial arts. This concept, which can be applied to the learning of any art of discipline, is what distinguishes us as martial artists rather than self-defense practitioners or fighters.

Anyway, I watched an excellent National Geographic documentary on Kendo and what it takes to achieve the elusive 8th Dan. Kendo, also known as Japanese fencing, is considered both a sport and a martial art. That being said, you are not considered a master simply by winning a gold medal at the Olympics. The 8th degree black belt test has a less than 1% pass rate, the testing of which is not based on how many points the applicants score during the testing, but rather the mental and spiritual commitment of their strikes. They must demonstrate the ability to be fully and completely in the moment, free of all attachments, during their performance.

I know many fighters and self-defense practitioners scoff at the importance of this concept, believing that winning fights or being able to successfully defend one's self is the highest goal. But those who apply the concept of mastery to their training usually end up being better at those other goals.

Here is the video below. It's about 45 minutes long, so brew yourself a cup of tea. Oh and if the Korean subtitles are preventing you from reading the English ones, be ready to pause the video with your mouse. Enjoy!

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