Poetry of Martial Arts

Real Masters of martial arts
are polite, well mannered,
their eyes gleaming with
the unmistakable thing no words
can capture.

Simultaneously
they are savage and calm.
Their warrior aura
ripples the air
and makes us feel safe.

Moving with extraordinary lightness,
they are liberated from the
weight of knowledge
by the flow of it through them.

They are masters because
they master themselves,
and walk on the earth
in the company of their
hard-won smiles.

Poem courtesy of my friend Wael Al-Sayegh, taken from his latest book “There is an Elephant in the Majlis”
Available directly from Wael’s website http://www.waelalsayegh.com/

The Poem you have just read is from a wonderful friend of mine, Wael Al-Sayegh.

I met Wael on one of Geoff Thompson’s seminars and since then, have shared some time with him, both on and off the mat.

There’s lots that inspires me about Wael, not least of all the fact that he will travel on a monthly basis from Dubai to the UK in order to follow his passion of martial arts and surround himself with the types of people he can gain inspiration himself from.

It was on one of his recent visits that I spent a morning with Wael, in both a class and private session, and it is this session that has inspired the following article.

You see, as a poet, Wael’s job is to use the wonders of language and the artistry of words, in order to tell a story or send a message.

The intention is to create beauty with the medium of words, and this often means, embellishing on a particular point, or including additional descriptions and narrative to help illustrate and enhance a phrase.

Whilst a few simple words might do the job, Wael ignores this and makes every effort to make the poem as beautiful as possible.

So, with this in mind, Mick and I decided to teach a class of Panantukan, Filipino “dirty” Boxing, as a way of demonstrating this poetic approach to martial arts.

Now, those who know me, know that one of my areas of, dare I say, “expertise”, in martial arts is the arena of personal security and self defence.

And those who have trained with me or purchased my instructional products, will know I am firmly in the camp of, One Punch Knock-outs and the ‘less is more’ approach.

I totally believe that, for your martial arts to work in a violent confrontation, you need to strip out all of the fancy and elaborate stuff, and use only what is explosive, efficient, direct and basic.

Using one big heavy right cross instead of a flashy 10 punch combination, is most definitely the order of the day.

However, there should still be time to indulge in the arts and dabble in a little Martial Art Poetry, and for me, Panantukan is just one of the arts we study where this can be explored.

So we spent time looking at how to add wing-blocks, destructions, and guntings to the standard boxing drills. Some of which looked totally over-the-top and more suited to a celluloid fight sequence than a fight in a bar, and they would be right.

But for me, if poetry is a way of making a simple ‘sign-post’ statement a more beautiful thing to read, then Martial Arts is a way of adding beauty and artistry to a functional “reality based” system.

And trust me, Wael could write road signs in his sleep, but the creation of poetry takes alot more time and effort. It’s this effort that brings with it the challenge and the resulting growth. The same applies to the study of your martial arts.

So, whilst mastering a fight-ending technique is one element of a functional martial arts system, I suggest daring to add some colour, some flare and some artistry to your training. Not only will this add new challenges and offer attributes which fully support your core techniques, it also looks cool…. and trust me, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking like Batman or Jason Bourne 

Thank you Wael, for a lovely day with great company and for giving me the inspiration for this short article. x

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al x

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