This is a tribute piece to our family friend and fellow black belt, Pam.
A sport, for some people, might be a hobby or something to enjoy some banter with. For others, a sport might be a space for them to develop out of. A Martial Arts, on the other hand, can be a way of living…
Well, Martial Arts and Sports are distinctively different but they share common interests and exist on common terms. It’s not a kick of a ball versus a kick to the face. The meaning of the term is the protection of a system of combat and a way of living. Without getting philosophical like Jackie Chan from Karate Kid… A martial art is a way of appreciating the indifferences in people’s lives, not a place ONLY to kick and break stuff, although that’s fun too. It’s neither a place where you can treat others any less as we are all still human and deserve to be treated with respect.
To elaborate more on indifferences, why do people fight? Is it because they are drunk or is it because there was an underlying reason or conflict unresolved before they started drinking? They might also just be having heaps of fun and things got a little out of hand… But it is true, you learn to protect yourself in Martial Arts. Only in a situation that cannot be controlled through words and without reason.
Take the Black Belt. What weight does that hold? What knowledge do they possess that propagates an aura about them? Hard work and lots of it. Work in the sense of physical conditioning and mental strength. Conversely, the strength to be understanding and not to fight. To know when an injustice has occurred and be tenacious in dispersing it. The reason why the belt of black is significant and equally why the belt of white is significant is indeed symbolic as both represent a level of practicality. The word practicality can be broken down into the word Practical or alternatively Practice. Through practice, a student would start at white belt and work their heart into the grit through repetition to become a black belt. Through blood and hard work, a black belt is made.
But be sure not to rush… With this rank comes responsibility that is handed down from an instructor or a mum or a brother or a friend. A silent responsibility that even the most senior black belts are still bound by. The protection of a family and its values. This is not to say any one family, but the entire community as a whole. This is more significant within Martial Arts because we are taught self-defense in a physical way and also in a social and loving context. When you strip away all of the kicks, all of the punches and leave only a Martial Artist what are you left with? Someone who knows whats up…
Sometimes in Martial Arts, you meet people who are capable of this tenacity and uphold these values. A person who has their own story and has traversed their own journey before you knew them. If you are lucky, you might cross paths with this person and receive the love, compassion, and strength that they can give. Someone who is humble, carries Mana (authority) and is capable of putting you flat on your back. This is a martial artist.
Rest In Peace Pam.