So, confession time, we are definitely stealing a line from the great David Mamet movie, “Red Belt,” which if you haven’t seen, we highly recommend. It’s a story about the struggles of a traditional martial artist to survive in the world which devalues tradition but who ultimately comes to prevail in the same way he teaches his students to prevail.
There’s a great scene in which the instructor is working with a woman who had been raped, teaching her how to successfully turn the knife on her attacker. He says to her, to affirm her status as a fighter not a victim, “It’s alright. There’s no one here but the fighters.”
photo by Hillary Johnson Photography
This is Matt Johnson, the teacher at the Ving Tsun Self Defense Academy. He first started studying a martial art at a very young age as a solution to intense bullying he experienced at school.
When he found ving tsun, finally, he felt all his questions had been answered in looking for an art that was complete and comprehensive. He discovered what all serious traditional martial artists eventually do, that the art would refine not only one’s ability to prevail physically against external threats but also refine the inner person to be gentler, calmer, more patient, disciplined and determined. He learned we can prevail against the inner and outer enemies.
The practice or path of ving tsun is a Way, in which the whole person comes to be cultivated, following a code of conduct and martial ethics which guides all aspects of behavior. The idea is to be a better person in the world. Be of service. Do no harm.
Many people think training in a martial art is first of all about the fist. And yes of course, there are very practical applications for all that self defense training but more important is the inner work. The fist is the way in, the beginning, not the final destination.
All students who walk through the door here are fighting a variety of battles in their every day lives. It’s part of who we are as human beings. Everyone has stuff going on; struggles of all kinds professionally, personally, spiritually.
Here at the VTSDA Sifu Matt works hard to teach ving tsun in a way that helps each student learn to prevail not only physically but in all these other areas of life too; to be able to deal with whatever comes along the way with more grace, grit, determination and resilience.
So here too, it’s alright. There’s no one here but the fighters.
We will introducing you to more of the students from the school in this series, we call, “No One Here but the Fighters.”
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