# 11 in a contInuing series

(The essential goal of martial arts is to elevate ourselves above the conflicts that are avoidable and to be fully present in mind, body, and spirit when taking action to resolve those conflicts we cannot escape. In that spirit, I continue with my series.)

       The young martial disciple, Dharman, believed that one starts martial art study with a basic toolbox consisting of punches, kicks, blocks, etc., creating a ‘ladder of knowledge’ that would hoist you up to new levels of perception.

“Yes, a ladder is a good symbol for martial growth,” I agreed. “However, when one reaches a certain height another set of tools will manifest, requiring another ladder to be built. One moves through an ever-ascending series of martial techniques and concepts.”

   “I’ve come a long way over the past few years, but I see that I have a lot more to go” Dharman reflected.

       “That’s a very common cry from the world’s martial seekers, myself included,” I replied. Even the masters of our disciplines understand there are dimensions where they too feel like beginners, wondering if they will ever be able to wade through all the material in front of them, grasp that new concept, that next level of technique. A true student is forever sweeping away endless cobwebs of doubt, ignorance, and misassumption, forever cleaning and organizing, endlessly poking and prodding the vast unknown to make room for the next layer of self-discovery.

The “grand poobahs” (masterless masters) as Iron Arms, Jeff Balbirnie, would say, want you to believe that they have plundered all there is to know and show you the bumps on their head from hitting the martial ceiling.  It’s more likely however, such individuals suffer a case of amnesia from hitting their false ceilings too hard.

There is no ceiling in martial study, except as a label for the end of your quest. If your martial study does not change your perceptions about reality then you simply have not been studying hard enough.

        “One of the reasons I love these conversations with you,” Dharman said, “is that I can express who I am. I can share my ideas openly without being critically judged,”

        I sense Dharman means, ‘without being minimized.’ Perhaps, the elder men in his circle up until now did not value his personhood—an unconscious dishonoring on their part. They themselves were probably not honored. This perpetuates a degrading chain of history that has disenfranchised so many so many of our modern youth—not being honored for the uniqueness of their lives. Such dishonoring creates a psychic weight.  I’m sure the elder men in Dharman’s life didn’t mean to disrespect his spiritual nature. They were simply blind to their own spiritual potential.

There are always plenty of lessons to learn.