I think that there are many similarities between learning Martial Art and learning to play the guitar. Not only in learning it, but also the styles, the goals, being a professional or not, the idols, the inventors and the classics. All these issues arise in both ventures, and here I will write down my thoughts on it. Writing this helps me in my Martial Arts training, my guitar playing and therefore in my everyday life. Actually, you can compare Martial Arts with anything in life; I think you will agree with me after reading this article.
I was 12 years old. First I was attracted by performances by famous guitar players like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. I thought it was really cool if was ever able to play like these guys. And apart from that, my brother was also playing the guitar, so it was almost natural for me to begin to.
I started with classical guitar. That was very important, because that way I started right from the beginning with a good technique. My teacher studied at a university to be a professional guitar instructor, so he really was able to instruct me well.
Practicing all the basic moves and difficult grips was really hard and my hand and fingertips really hurted a lot. To me it did not seem logical: why should I learn this? Just teach me some nice and easy tunes! Also I had to learn and practice scales. That has got nothing to do with making real music!
Only later on I would realize that without a good foundation, good basics, you can only get so far. It is possible to start playing popular tunes quickly, but at some time you get stuck, and cannot go further without a better understanding of the complete basics of guitar playing.
I was 12 years old. First I was attracted by performances by famous martial artists like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.I thought it was really cool if was ever able to perform kung fu the way the do. So I started to look for a kung fu school in my hometown. When I started, I had to learn all kinds of movements that, in my opinion, had nothing to do with kung fu or real fighting. To me it did not seem logical: why should I learn this? Just teach me some nice and easy punches and kicks!
Later I learned and had to practice standard movements, put in order in a set (kata). That has got nothing to do with fighting, so why should I learn it!
Only later on I would realize that without a good foundation, good basics, you can only get so far. It is possible to start playing popular tunes quickly, but at some time you get stuck, and cannot go further without a better understanding of the complete basics of martial arts.
Just like in the Martial Arts they’re many, many styles of performing. Some of the styles are directly connected with famous names. Some of them have taken a well known, but anonymous, style and changed it according to their own way of thinking.
Take the blues. White men looked at the blues in a different way. When they started playing it, the changed it. Many people said that that was wrong, and that the blues must remain in its original state. But during the years it further (for example Steve Ray Vaughn) evolved and now the new blues style is a accepted thing. Influences from other style can be found in the new blues, and changing is still going on. But still, many people think they can create a new style on their own, and they do. But only the great masters can ‘make’ a new style, a style that appeals to other people in a way that other people also want to perform in the same way.
Take Wing Chun. Yip Man made the style as we now know it today. But he learned from others at one time. He was a great master in the sense that he ‘made’ a new style (with the same name) according to his own way of thinking. Not only did he made a new style (many people do) but it appealed to many other people. Now Wing Chun is yet again changing, other people are trying to ‘improve’ the style, but only the truly great masters survive. Constant changing is going on in the Shaolin styles. Many people hang on to the past and do not wish to change anything, but as everything in live things must change or die.
Masters and Musicians
When you play guitar, you try to play different styles. Until one day you find a style that fits you the most. Just like in martial arts. Maybe you like the style, maybe you like a well know person in that style, just like in martial art. After several years you make own personal interpretation of the style and the copying ends. You start to develop your own style. Just like in Martial Arts. Many guitarists play other peoples music, just like the martial artist is practicing the kata from some master. Great musicians made , just like great masters, things that can only be made by true masters of the style. Many people are very happy to ‘play’ their music/kata. Some pieces are better that others: every master has his master. At some point you start to make your own music. That can be successful, if you got the potential of a great master, but very often you just let the writing to the writers, and everybody is happy. Just like in Martial Arts. But that does not mean that you, for yourself can make music, just for yourself. It will feel good to perform something you yourself made. Just think of the men that inspired and taught you. Maybe someday you do produce a diamond, and maybe someday you will become a master and transmit your own personal style to others.
Just like in martial arts: it is the natural way.