Every year, Native American Tribes from across North America converge on Halifax, Nova Scotia for the Annual Halifax Pow Wow. I had the privilege of attending the past two days. It reminded me of a martial art tournament in how the event was structured. I was truly amazed by the talent of not only the “dancers” but also the singers and drummers. I highly recommend it to anyone that has the ability to attend.
This Pow Wow got me thinking about the wilderness survival videos that I will be filming over the course of the next four weeks, which in turn caused me to remember some of the survival classes I had taken personally. Quite a few years ago I was sitting in an old folding chair on a slab of ice. I was in the middle of the Pine Barrens, in New Jersey. It was night-time, sometime in the beginning of February and I was listening to my wilderness survival instructor (Tom Brown Jr.) lecturing on the finer points of winter survival. I, along with the 50 other students, were freezing cold and there was no way to get warm until we went to bed (because we were in class), which wasn’t for another 4 hours. After he was finished with his lecture, Tom said something that he had said before, but it really hit home that night. He said, “learning wilderness survival is like having insurance on your life. Just imagine, as you are driving down the road, you have the ability to pull over and walk out into the wilderness with only what you have on and live in a Garden of Eden.” I started thinking about that and felt this huge weight lift off my shoulders. Think about it. What would you do if you lost your job, your home (because you lost your job and couldn’t find work), your car, etc.? I would just walk out into the wilderness (probably the Adirondack Mountains) and survive as comfortably as I am now. True I wouldn’t have my iPhone or my iMac or my iPad (yes I’m a Mac) but instead I would have all the amazing things nature has to offer. Most people who interact with me on a daily basis see how connected I am to the modern world through my “toys” but I could easily give them up in a second. For example, the most exciting thing that I did today had nothing to do with modern technology, just the opposite, I spend a good amount of time petting a Raccoon (well in reality two raccoons until one of them tried to bite me).
Anyway, back to the Garden of Eden. I can’t even begin to tell you how liberating it is to know I never have to worry about the things most people worry about. At any moment in my life, if things get out of control and are not looking good, I can simply walk out into the woods and never come back. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that, but the fact that I can, is very comforting.
So what does this have to do with martial arts. In a way we have a similar “life insurance policy.” In this case it is being able to defend ourselves if we are ever attacked. I have had the “privilege” of being mugged twice in my life and I am still here. Not only am I here, I have a hard time even recalling all the specifics of the events because they were not that significant. I am not under the delusion that there is no one out there that could better me in a confrontation, but chances are they are not going to be mugging me. Most muggers out there are drunk, on drugs or simply don’t know what they are doing. Please don’t think I am trying to minimize the danger of being mugged because I am not. The first time I was mugged, I was attacked by a man wielding a broken beer bottle. If he had hit me with it, I could have been severely cut. Instead, I am saying that every martial artist has the tools necessary to help them defend themselves against a typical mugger. Are you guaranteed to win? No, but you have the ability to defend yourself to a far greater extent then someone who has no martial art training. Think about that and hopefully you will have a similar “dropping a heavy weight” experience as I did. You don’t have to live in fear. This is a luxury most people don’t have.
Something to think about…