I am Not Your Master: Being My Student Is Your Choice
by Rodney King
I totally get that people, or should I rather say men treat me differently to other men they may know. The fact that I have both a reputation as a badass, and fighting skills to back it up, has a tendency to make men walk tentatively around me. I am not saying it’s right, but I get put up on a pedestal, which when you are in you’re early 20’s feels great — but in your 40’s makes you feel somewhat uncomfortable.
I am No One Special
The truth is, I am really no one special. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is someone special. I am just a guy who has learned how to efficiently use his body as a weapon. Most average people don’t see what I do as practicing peace, but preparing for war.
Because of what I do, because of what the story is about me — people have a certain expectation of who I should be. To an outsider, to the person who enters my gym, I am a fighter, and as such can kick peoples asses for a living — so clearly then I am fearless, tenacious, and powerful. I guess, it can seem that way, when once again for the thousandth time I tap you out, or drop you with that body shot. When people watch me work through a room of ‘guys’ many of whom tower over me, and I play with them as a cat plays with a mouse, men stand in awe. There are times, there have been times when my privileged status has been questioned by some — but when I challenge them to show me that I am wrong — they often fall victim to the truth of my fists.
Men naturally gravitate to men like me (even if they actually don’t like who I am). They gravitate to me, because just like Achilles they see something in me that they want too, even if, it may destroy them in the end. On the surface they may want the same level of jiu-jitsu skills they see I posses, or to box like I do — but they also know deep down inside, that this guy, this man who stands before them, embodies the heritage of the warriors who have gone before him — and they too want that, if only for a brief moment to embody those immutable heroic qualities, to have physical skills, that other men fear.
I Am Fucked Up, Just Like Everyone Else: And That’s Okay
But the truth is, I am not some kind of Heroic, demigod like figure. There are days I hate what I do. There are days I really don’t even want to go to train at all. There are days I doubt my own ability, and question if I am even worthy to wrap that black belt around my waist. There are times when choosing that easy opponent on the mat, is so enticing, than having to face once again that one guy who always seems to give me a damn hard time. There are times in the midst of a roll, or a sparring match when everything is going wrong, that I want to quit and just walk off the mat — but I don’t, because my damn ego simply won’t let me. I can be cranky too, and hard to be around at times — no wonder I have invested so much time in learning to be more mindful.
This is exactly why I am nobody’s Master. I don’t want to be one either. I am, like every single person on this planet, a work in progress. There are days I am worthy of the Samsonian accolades lauded upon me, and there are other days it is better to forget who I am. I am writing this for two reasons. One, I don’t believe for a damn second that these ‘martial art experts’ on Facebook who claim to be such bad asses all of the time, are really that much of a bad ass after all. No one is that switched on, or has it all together all of the time. If you don’t see cracks, or edges, then you need to worry. There’s simply way to much photoshopping going around.
“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyse vitality.” ― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice
Secondly, every real person you have ever known and especially the people you respect and admire, are not and shouldn’t always be 100% perfect. In fact it is in their imperfection where their true source of power lies. This is why I can’t stand all these positive, I got all my shit together all of the time motivational type guru’s. It’s all bullshit. It’s a lie. No one can be like that all of the time, except maybe the Dalai Lama.
“It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.” – Soren Kierkegaard
People choose to train with me I hope, because I am real. What you see is what you get kind of guy. I don’t pretend to be perfect. What I write about on my blog, or in my books is what I am learning or trying to put into practice in my own life (sometimes with great success, at other times a dismal failure). My blog, my books, everything I talk about, are my own personal observations, but it is also what I really try to put into practice.
I get it that people want to train with me. To learn from me. Many, sadly, only want to get that fighting ability I have. No one forces someone to train with me. It’s a voluntary act. You either like my approach, or you don’t. That’s very much your own choice. But just know this, if you are looking for some kind of Guru, or Master, the ‘Tony Robbins’ of the martial arts world ― I am the wrong guy.
I swear, I am impatient, I am uncompromising, I am not politically correct, I don’t like smiling (but that doesn’t mean I am not happy), I am not the easiest person to approach at times and sometimes you going to hate my guts on the mat. I am that Zen Teacher who carries around the keisaku, and I am not afraid to use it. But while I can be complicated, which I normally get away with because I refer to myself as a ‘melancholic artist’, three things you can know about me for sure:
- I absolutely care more about you as my student, more than you will ever know,
- When I compliment you (which most people who train under me, will say hardly happens), it’s because I genuinely believe you have just done something extraordinary.
- And when I am extra hard on you, it’s not because I don’t like you, it’s because I actually see something very special in you.
In the end: people who leave my tutelage, don’t leave because they now can beat me at will, or that I have nothing more to teach them. Everyone knows what I teach works, because they get to experience the loss via my hands daily on the mat. No, they leave, because unlike me, I know I am full of shit, and I am constantly working on cleaning that trash out. Some people sadly, want other people to clean out the trash in the rooms of their minds for them. In the end, no one can do that for you except yourself
PS. Sadly for some, leaving my gym, or my programs and then talking shit about me on the internet, is far easier than having to deal with their own bullshit. Ah yes, as they were on the mat, still waiting for someone else to clean out the trash for them.
“There would be no need for love if perfection were possible. Love arises from our imperfection, from our being different and always in need of the forgiveness, encouragement and that missing half of ourselves that we are searching for, as the Greek myth tells us, in order to complete ourselves.”
– Eugene Kennedy
July 25, 2018
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