Eddie VanHalen with "Frankenstein"
I remember how shocked I was when I read in an interview how rock star Eddie Van Halen grabbed his guitars (guitars that he had built by hand) and threw them into the bed of his pickup truck. The writer noted how Eddie threw his uncovered guitars as casually as he might have tossed a shovel.
I was stunned when I read the interview because I have only one guitar that I treat with great care like a holy object. While many guitarists buy guitars with fancy walnut veneers and glossy finishes, then polish them constantly, Eddie’s guitars have cigarette burns and tape on them.
And here is the lesson for martial artists. Too many martial artists view their weapons not as tools, but as treasures. GM Vasquez of Modified Tapado points out how some Filipino martial artists have heirloom sticks that are passed down from generation to generation. But Tapado stylists view sticks as disposable, and when they break a stick in training (as often happens) they casually reach for another. A Tapado stick is a tree limb with the bark still on it. People who see Tapado training are surprised at the power of a weapon that looks like “an old man’s walking stick.”
But we martial artists are attracted to nice looking weapons, weapons that are shiny, new, and look intimidating. I plead guilty to owning a long stick made out of different colors and types of exotic hardwoods. It’s a beautiful stick polished to a high gloss. But what we should keep in mind is that a weapon is a tool designed to crush an opponent.
Eddie's Guitar Close Up: Not Pretty
We must not let our attraction to beauty make us neglect simple, functional weapons. We are better off using crude, inexpensive weapons designed to get the job done, and banging them up in practice. If we choose weapons that look good (rather than fight well) and are hesitant to use them roughly in practice out of fear of marring their beauty, we may come up short when our lives are on the line.