This post is directed more to Taekwon-Do, but I am sure many others can relate.
When I was a teenager I had idols within my martial art (ITF Taekwon-Do). People who I could look up to and one day aspire to be like as a martial artist. These masters had reputations for being able to perform the unthinkable. They were hard men, and they were every bit deserving of the reputations that they had. They were like superheroes, and that’s how we spoke of them.
Many years have gone by and I still hear and tell stories of these men. Many have passed on, others have become weathered by time – and yet, even though old and grey, they still perform (outperform) and live with Taekwon-Do in their hearts. These were and are the pioneers of Taekwon-Do. They helped to bring in and lived through the golden age of martial arts.
Today, they are like mythical creatures – Dragons, of which few are left. There are a few who learned their ways and carry what is left of the magic, but most have lost their ability to breathe fire. And what good is a dragon that cannot breathe fire?
I look around and think, “Where are the heroes of tomorrow? Where are the legends in the making? Who will the students of tomorrow look at in amazement and wonder? Who will they aspire to be like?” There seems to be a void – hopefully it does not turn into an abyss. It almost seems as though many masters and students today are content with mediocrity and have no aspiration to become great. They are content to hear the stories, but not to put in the effort to become the ones in the stories.
On the odd occasion a fuss is made over a competitor – the seeming hero of today. But competition and tournaments are merely a game played within the martial arts. The true greats did not become heroes for being sportsmen and competitors. In fact, most never even set foot in a ring. They became heroes for being martial artists –
the real kind – hardened, no nonsense tough guys, not people that play games on a mat.
Could the age of dragons be over, or can we still resurrect the old ways and rekindle the flame of a true martial art?