It may seem cliche for a blog writer to write about the act of writing. The internet is riddled with posts reflecting upon the writing process and its ease or difficulty for their respective writers. Do not confuse this post with one of those posts. This is not a desperate stab at an abstract subject because I’ve run out of relevant things to talk about. On the contrary, it has weighed heavily on my mind how important it is in the martial arts to write things down.
Taking Good Notes
This one is pretty straight forward. Taking good notes will allow one to return to material after an absence and be able to better recall and remember it.
Most of the time,its imp can go unnoticed. Regularly going to classes can create the impression that one is up to snuff on current knowledge and technique. At no fault to the teacher, it is simply impossible to cover all relevant material in a regular class schedule unless the classes were all day long every day. Most class schedules simply do not have that luxury of time. The result is just enough time to either focus on the most critical fundamentals or to briefly skim through more advanced technique. Either way, there will come times when an important point is mentioned that may not be mentioned again for sometime. When this occurs, the mindful martial arts student should make a physical record of it so that it can be referred to later. This will allow for more rapid progression through course material and more rapid knowledge development.
Keeping Things Straight
Besides aiding to retain personal knowledge, writing things down can also serve a martial artist to keep straight important things about one’s practice. Even a novice martial artist should be able to answer questions like why the study of martial arts is important, what the style he or she is studying has to offer, why certain aspects of the training are essential, etc. Forcing one’s self to write down the answers to these and similar questions forces one’s self to get things fully articulated; it is often the case that one may think the answers to those sorts of questions is quite clear (they may seem pretty clear in one’s head), but when one is asked to articulate such answers, one may find that the answer one is able to supply is under-developed and incomplete. Contemplating such things through writing will help a martial arts practitioner develop these thoughts and even lead the practitioner to new thoughts.
For example, let’s assume a hypothetical martial arts student named Bill. Bill loves martial arts, and goes to classes three times a week. He studies hard and even practices at home. Bill very much identifies with the virtues of martial arts and defines himself as a martial artist. A friend asks Bill, “You sure spend a lot of time practicing martial arts Bill, why is that?” Bill might respond, “Because its good to know how to defend yourself.” This seems like a perfectly reasonable answer, but what if his friend replies with “Well why don’t you study tactical firearms too? In today’s world one ought to have a working knowledge of that to truly be able to defend themselves.” To this, Bill might not have an answer because firearms have never come up at Bill’s school before, and everyone knows that the goodguys in martial arts movies never use guns. Perhaps Bill isn’t really interested in guns. Guns just don’t seem poetic to Bill maybe. However, would any of those answers seem relevant or intelligent given the conversation so far? Because Bill hasn’t ever made himself fully think about his practice, he has not complete answer to give his friend nor himself. Further, Bill now discovers an unaddressed issue in his practice: guns. Forcing one’s self to write these sorts of things out forces one to think things through.
This is really more for teachers or leaders within martial arts who desire to better communicate with students and organization members. Putting things in written form like manuals, websites, and literature about the art gives students and members a physical point of reference to go to for answers to questions. Just as the practice of writing can keep things straight for one’s self, putting important topics in written form can also keep members of a group straight on essential topics. Physical manuals describe a uniform method of practicing physical technique, mental manuals describe the importance of practices like meditation and manners, and literature communicates to the outside world the virtues of a school or organization. Just as an individual should be able to answer questions about aspects of one’s practice, so should a martial arts school or organization be able to answer questions about its curriculum and its practices.
I guess its true what the school teachers say, “everyone needs to know how to write.” While not everyone will be depended upon to compose a manual or school pamphlet, writing about martial arts and one’s practice is an important part of one’s training and can lead one to new growth that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Think about what sort of questions are key to your practice and how you might answer them. Put it in writing.