JUS?TALKING: It?s all about skill at large | india | Hindustan Times
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JUS?TALKING: It?s all about skill at large

How tough you are is always a factor when you?re a guy. It may be out there in the open when you?re in junior school, like Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes. The thing is, it doesn?t cease to matter for a long time after. Maybe not until you?re out of college, and maybe not even then.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2005 11:44 IST

How tough you are is always a factor when you’re a guy. It may be out there in the open when you’re in junior school, like Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes. The thing is, it doesn’t cease to matter for a long time after. Maybe not until you’re out of college, and maybe not even then.

So at least some of the male fascination with gym and martial arts is not because the girls love toned bodies (they do) but because guys like to be tough. The thing then is of course how big your muscles are or who you can beat in arm-wrestling or maybe who you can beat up. That’s fine, but if you’ve tried any of those things, you’ll find that there are some pretty boring words associated with becoming a winner in any of them.

Like discipline, for starters. I hated that word still do. But try learning martial arts without doing exercises and practicing every day. If you get into a ring with no training, chances are you’ll come off much the worse. And I believe body-building also takes plenty of hours in the gym and a healthy lifestyle. I’m saying all this to myself as much as to anyone else.

That’s because I’m so miserably bad at self-discipline. It can get pretty troublesome, if like me, you end up in a martial arts championship fighting a guy who’s obviously been practicing for years, while you were busy watching movies or ogling girls. Then you decide one fine day to enroll for karate classes and end up in a tournament. I got out of that one with my bones and teeth intact and I still ascribe that to luck more than anything else.

Just like there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there’s no such thing as a free toned body or a free skill. You may be born smart but you still have to put in work to achieve even half your potential. You may be born big and strong but that may not win you any fights. Master Hirokazu Kanazawa is one of the toughest men walking this planet. Kanazawa is the highest ranked black-belt holder in Shotokan karate in the world.

He’s a 10th Dan, the only one, and is an expert in Tai-Chi as well. Even at the ripe old age of 74 he would easily beat the average, fit 6 ft 20-year-old to pulp in seconds. According to Master Kanazawa, the most important qualities for a good fighter are brains, fighting spirit and character. He puts physical prowess below all these. One may be able to win fights on sheer strength in one’s youth, he says, but the strength will ebb with age.

What will matter then is skill. Skill comes from a lot of training. It comes from hard work, and, yes, discipline. In the final analysis, it comes from harmony, he says: first, physical harmony, when you have control of your own movements and breathing. Then a larger harmony where you are in harmony with your opponent your movements are perfectly harmonised to respond to his.

Finally, you reach the stage where you are in harmony with nature. It’s strange how he’s harmonised a quietly violent art with the goal of achieving peace. But then, it is like that, I guess. At the highest level, things really aren’t what they seem.