There are only a handful of teachers I have met in my 30+ years of martial arts training that despite the very high expectations, continue to exceed them. Peter Carbone Sensei is one of them.
Last night’s training was brilliant. We did quite a number of new, creative variations of stick striking and defense. Added to this was some empty hand movement that tied up everything; that is, the movements comparing empty hand and weapons were similar despite the outward appearance. Overall, exceptional!
The small gathering outside after class was of equal value. Over the years, Carbone Sensei and I have established a trust and it was an honor to hear insights from someone of this level.
The comment that impacted the most were this: “To be a great martial artist, you need 2 things — Respect and Heart.”
Respect. Respect for the art, for those who came before us, for the teacher(s), for our fellow students and for ourselves. Everything we do and say is held to a high standard.
In today’s era, respect is not as common. . . even in martial arts. . . as one would hope. People train, then just disappear, never mentioning anything to anyone. People say they will come and never keep their word. Some, you stick your neck out for them and even their kids, only to be spit in the face. It can be a harsh experience, but such contrasting ones serve as a reminder to keep going forward. Let nothing stop you from living a life of honor, courage and integrity.
Heart is the other one. You want to quit. . . but don’t. You want to skip class this week. . . . but show up anyway. You don’t feel well. So what. Training anyway. You don’t want to do the pushups or take any strikes. . . .but do this despite anything.
It takes heart to sign up, show up and keep showing up. Week after week. Year after year. Few are willing to go to such lengths but those who do are rewarded in ways that few will ever know.
One thing that struck me is that Carbone Sensei never mentioned skill or athleticism. He never said that you needed to be great athlete, able to jump tall buildings in a single bound. No, heart mattered more. Respect mattered.
As you can see, conversations with a true Martial Arts Master is as valuable as the training itself. In fact, it IS a type of training.
As he was speaking, I sometimes thought about our school and those who demonstrate the respect and heart he was referring to. It was a great feeling knowing that we in fact, have created an environment whereby a number of men and women exhibit these types of skills.
I am grateful to David and Rick Merrell and of course, Vladimir for without their willingness to share the information, this never would have happened.
I am also extremely grateful to all of our students to taking the chance to become great martial artists and more importantly, great people.