Thursday, July 9, 2015

The pains and joys of learning a new martial art.

Chendokan Aikido
    I've been studying Japanese martial arts since 1995.  However, I recently moved to Nashville and decided a change in location could mean a change in martial arts for me as well.  There is a local school of Chendokan Aikido, and I still practice there a couple times a month, but I specifically wanted to go back to the beginning and study something where I didn't know the language or ideas presented.  So I started looking for a new martial art to study.  I looked around at a couple of local schools, some karate, kung-fu and others.  Then I listened to a podcast where Steve Perry (the writer not the guy from Journey) was talking about Pencak Silat, and he described the way it looked as Aikido combined with Wing Chun.  I was hooked with the idea.  Here was an art that was completely foreign in its language and culture, but should still have some familiarity right?  I looked around, and there happens to be a school not far away from me.  So I started studying PCK Pencak Silat.


    I've been practicing, and teaching martial arts long enough that I've forgotten what its like to start at the beginning.  I forgot how standing in an unfamiliar position uses small muscles that you're not used to using, and how they hurt the next day.  I'm decently familiar with Japanese language and how it's structure works, especially within the context of Aikido and martial arts in general.  I forgot how daunting and overwhelming learning all the language components can be.   Pencak Silat is from Indonesia, and I have no experience with that language or culture.  Because Aikido doesn't really use kata, or forms, I was specifically looking for a martial art that had forms.  Silat does have forms, and learning them is a completely new, and again, awkward experience.


PCK Silat
 I'm not complaining or whining, all those same things that are the pains of learning a martial art, are also the joys of learning a martial art.  After a little while, the newness of learning a martial art wears off, and all you're left with is the more difficult parts.  That's where you have to find your joys.  Find joy in learning a new culture and language.  Find joy in that awkward, uncomfortable position slowly feeling more natural.  Find joy in the ability to push past the learning curve and find pleasure in incremental learning of new skills.  All of those are the real joys of learning a new martial art. 

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