Christmas -A Reminder of the Spiritual Side of the Art

GM Ramiro Estalilla

GM Estalilla’s father fought against the Japanese in WWII. His unit had two Bibles with them, one in English and the other in Ilocano. They left the Ilocano Bible untouched because it was their first language, but eventually wound up using pages from the English Bible for cigarette papers.

The elder Estalilla had left for battle an agnostic, but returned as a Christian. He explained, “Son, there are no atheists in the foxholes.”

There is a good reason why there should be a spiritual component to the martial arts, and all of my Filipino teachers are devout Christians. GM Maranga said to me one day after training, “Forget about me, forget everything I’ve taught you, but never forget God.”

GM Drigo Maranga

The spiritual component of the art, rather than draw warriors away from reality, in actuality grounds them in reality –that they are human, and therefore mortal.

Too many martial artists use the arts to fuel fantasies, such as fighting bare handed against six men with swords and emerging unscathed.

The fantasy martial artists imagine that they are the world’s deadliest man. I’m reminded of the psychiatrist who had several patients in a mental hospital, each of whom thought he was Jesus. The psychiatrist had the idea that he would put all three into the same room, and that in time they would realize, “Hey, wait a minute, we can’t all be Jesus, I must be delusional.”

The psychiatrist was disappointed when each man told him, “I’m the real Jesus, those other two guys are imposters.” That’s the situation we have today, with hundreds of fantasy martial artists each claiming to be the world’s deadliest.

Not only does the fantasy martial artist need to delude himself about his invulnerability, but also needs to puff himself up above other “lesser” martial artists. The result is a proliferation of outlandish costumes and ever more grandiose titles. Acknowledging the debt he owes to his teacher(s) implies that there is someone greater or better than he is, so he is compelled to invent his own style and to pretend that he never had any teachers, or that he has surpassed those who were practicing the art before he was born.

I’m using the occasion of this holy day of Christmas to point out certain spiritual truths:

We are all human, and therefore mortal

We are not superior to anyone else

Regardless of our skill level, life and death (particularly when

weapons are involved), hangs by the most frail thread

Regardless of our skill level, we can learn from anyone, and anyone is

capable of defeating us in the right circumstances

Life is a fragile and therefore precious thing

In the light of an all powerful God, we are compelled to be humble and to

respect others

God bless you all, and Merry Christmas

Maligayang Pasko (Tagalog)

Naragsak nga Paskua (Ilocano)

Maayong Pasko (Bisaya)

Feliz Navidad

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One Response to “Christmas -A Reminder of the Spiritual Side of the Art”

  1. Every athlete has their prime when their skill are at their peek and then there skills and body go downhill. Unfortunately too many people cannot separate these fantasies as you state and understand there is alot more in life regardless of how skilled you are. Some will face that disillusion and just run from it, other will face it and move on with there lives.

    Sooner of later you do and will realize that your human.

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