Monday, August 22, 2016

For Budo Like Soup

Ah Soup, it is a wonderful concoction that every culture in the world has at least one version of. Soup is what made it possible for humans to eat certain vegetables in their diet that were normally too tough to eat alone, improving the health of the cultures that learned to cook vegetables in pots with water.

Have you ever tried to share your favorite soup with someone. Especially one that is very good, and they just don't like it, they prefer their own? This is a bit of a metaphor, but I think you know what I'm talking about. Once, I entered a small community chili contest. I didn't have any aspirations to win, I mostly just wanted to share my chili with my friends and acquaintances in this group (ok, I thought I had a good chance of winning too). I bought prime rib (yes, I was going for overkill) and seared it before braising it for four hours. No ground beef for my chili. I made the chili flavoring from actual chilis, seven different varieties. I flame roasted them, then pureed them. Instead of sugar, I used chocolate to sweeten the chili. When it was done, I was super proud. And throughout the night, people kept telling me how amazing my chili was. There were other chilis I tasted that I thought were going to give mine a run for first prize (I asked them how they made their chili and got some good ideas, and they asked me how I made mine and I shared also).

I didn't even place though. Neither did the ones that I thought were also really good. The judges were just some random people asked to do the judging and they all liked the watery chilis with corn and ground beef in them (that was the first prize winner) or with lots of different beans but standard chili seasoning (second prize). Those ones were the ones that won. Those judges liked what they liked, and it didn't matter beyond that. I even had a friend years later tell me about a chili contest he entered for his church. He bought two different brands of canned chili from the store, dumped them together in a pot, added some extra seasoning to it like garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder, and he won the blue ribbon and the home made quilt that went with first prize!

So, what does this have to do with Budo? Quite a lot. It also has a lot to do with religion. Budo and religion are very similar in many ways. Have you ever tried to discuss religion with someone when you are both on very different sides? It's nearly impossible. Everyone likes their own soup and they are fine with that. Hey, even a boring soup is still better than the ingredients alone (hopefully anyway, lol!). So, when a person who is dead set on their way of thinking, it is so hard to change it. Even if you do some actual sparring and beat the person silly, they will still think their martial art is superior in many cases. I've seen this so many times, I just had this happen this past weekend when talking about the difference between Budo and sport fighting with someone that also is a teacher.

It was a friendly discussion with some very light sparring. I had the upper hand each time and stopped at the moment of the very serious strike or break. It didn't matter, this person still thought the sport art was better. In only a very few instances have I had someone say, "wow, I've never seen it like that before, that's really cool." Usually, they are still dead set on thinking what ever art they study is still superior. So, just enjoy your own soup, and remain open to what other people have to offer. You can still pick up something. Don't be like the person who refuses to give up their way of thinking, even when it is literally beat into their skull. Or when they say their way of striking is superior and you let them have a free shot and it does nothing, so they switch and say "well, then I'd do this," and it doesn't work, or this, and it doesn't work, and then the time for free shots is over and you move in and stop short of really hurting them, and they still don't see the problem with their training, there is no longer a point in trying to help them see a better way. So, here is a mantra to live by when discussing Budo with someone who does sport fighting. Just ask them, "Do you enjoy what you do?" And they say, yes. "Well, good then." And leave it there. As with religion, only people who are open to accepting new ideas will understand Budo and want to learn more because they will be seeking it out.

Are there other factors? Of course. Such as the particular skill of the person being a larger factor than their art. Am I as biased, quite likely. But I found this art after doing sport fighting and spent a couple years just exploring martial arts and that was when I found the Bujinkan and haven't had a reason to look back.