Saturday, 17 September 2011

Martial arts made me a better artist

Stages of artistic mastery
And art made me a better martial artist.

One thing I've worked hard on improving is my martial skill. For years I've studied technique in the gym under coaches, with sparring partners, read text books, watched videos, entered full contact competition, attended seminars. When I find a hole in my game, I isolate it and work on patching it up. When I lost a match as a white belt in BJJ because someone got side control and just held me down, my coach made me start in that disadvantageous position in class every time until I could successfully escape. I've applied that same method ever since.

There is always something to learn, there is always something to improve on. Perfection cannot be attained, but I strive towards it. I need to be humble and admit what my faults are before I can fix them. I seek out the best for their advice, and I accept that they are better than me. Talent isn't delivered by a fairy while you sleep - the only way to be better is to work more.

Then it occurred to me: why the fuck aren't I applying the same attitude to my artwork? why haven't I obsessively tried to improve my technique since finishing my Fine Arts degree? I now see the degree like attaining my blue belt - it's just the beginning. It only means I've got a handle on a few fundamentals, yet these fundamentals will still take a lifetime to master. I felt fine with the skills I had developed in art, but was never satisfied with my martial skill.

Now these interests both inform each other. And everything else.

The chart I've posted here could apply to anything. I'd perhaps change a couple of things, but the general idea is right. We delude ourselves into thinking we are better than we are, we make excuses for our inadequacies and we need to wake up and break out of that. Be an eternal student.

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