The Warrior in the Garden

Since being back in Australia teaching seminars, the focus of a lot of my classes has been the demand for so called ‘Reality Based Training’, or ‘Street Survival skills for the Real World’. In a lot of ways, it doesn’t surprise me how much demand there is out there for techniques designed for the survival of a full-on attack involving intra-personal aggression. But at the same time, it disturbs me that the state of society is such that so much of the populace feels such a need for these kinds of Survival skills. Of course, this fear is driven by the reality of what is happening and driven by the daily barrage of reports in the media of violent assaults on our streets, home invasions, kidnappings and road rage or whatever. I realise of course that this daily violence is perpetrated by a minority of ‘sociopaths’ who, for a variety of reasons, find it a necessary part of their daily lives to behave in the most abhorrent fashion.

Now this brings me to the point of this particular Blog. You see I sometimes feel a need to defend the need for these types of classes from some, albeit it a small percentage in society, who have a somewhat negative view of what we do as Martial Artists. These are the people who will criticise and actually see us as almost contributing to this culture of violence by way of the content and instruction we give to participants in these specialised seminars. For me, the following sums up the mind-set behind what I do.

There is a story in the Chinese martial arts about “The Peaceful Warrior”, where a young apprentice, while training in the use of the Chinese sword, asked his teacher why, if he was striving to be inwardly calm and at peace, did he need to learn the ways of a warrior?  “Would it not be more tranquil and serene to be a gardener and tend the plants?” he asked.  “Tending the garden,” the master replied, “is a relaxing pastime, but it does not prepare one for the inevitable battles of life.  It is easy to be calm in a serene setting.  To be calmed and serene when under attack is much more difficult, so, therefore, I tell you that it is far better to be a warrior tending his garden rather than a gardener at war.”

In other words, so often we do not have a choice as to when violence may be brought to our doorstep. And if that time should ever come, and God knows we hope it never does, then at this time we need to become Warriors with the confidence of a Warrior mind-set and commensurate skills. I always tell my students that we should never be the one’s taking the violence to anyone. You can absolutely choose to be a pacifist all your life in regards your behaviour in society. But what if the time comes that you are in a life-threatening situation involving maybe yourself or worse still, your family or loved ones. Don’t you agree that at this time it would be better to be a ‘Warrior’ than a ‘Gardener’? Don’t you think we have a right to personal survival and the survival of our loved ones when confronted by the ‘sociopath’ who has no regard for your physical well-being, or worse still, your life? I honestly believe we do. I feel proud of the possibility that a student of mine could also assume the role of the ‘Protector’, or ‘Sheepdog’ in society against the aggressor, or ‘Wolf’, who’s only intent is to wreak havoc on the weaker of our flock.
Richard Norton