John was is his 30's and had practiced martial arts for many years. He had practiced 2 or 3 different styles and was quickly becoming bored with his present practice. Believing that he had gotten all he could from his present style and teacher, he started to look again for another "Better" school. His search led him to a school on the outskirts of town. John thought that he had visited every school in the city at least once, but somehow he had missed this one.
John walked into the school with the intention of interviewing the master. He had prepared a lengthy list of questions. This was the same list he used to confront all of his previous instructors, as well as many other that did not pass his test.
A friendly and professional staff member, who asked "How can I help you",? immediately greeted him. John in an assured, slightly arrogant tone asked to meet the master. The staff member smiled and said, "Normally you would need an appointment but we just had a cancellation. Please take a seat and I'll see if the master will meet with you."
Sitting down, John couldn't help but notice how quiet and peaceful this place was although is was before classes had started for the day).It wasn't at all what he had expected. Everything was so neat and clean; it seamed as if everything had it's place.
It was simple yet beautiful, yet John could tell that this wasn't about just being beautiful. Students practiced very hard here. Glancing up, he noticed he noticed a wall lined with framed photos. Some he recognized and some he didn't, but they were obviously martial arts masters. The odd thing was that, as far as he could tell, they came from all different styles. Looking up at the pictures, John didn't notice that the master standing in front of him. He was a small and unassuming man, yet he exuded a presence of confidence and wisdom.
The master spoke first. "You asked to see me?"
John immediately stood and said, "Yes Sir. I've practiced for many years and I know a lot of styles and now I am thinking about joining your school."
Now the master. seaming a little confused, asked, "You know a lot of styles"?
"Well, said John, "I've practiced a lot of styles and I have some questions for you. My first question is why should I practice your style?"
To this the master responded, "I don't know that you should."
John said, "Well, what I mean is, what is so great about your style?"
The master smiled and said quietly, "Nothing."
John was becoming a tittle frustrated now. "No, I mean what makes your style better than other styles?'
In response, the master pointed to the wall with the photographs and said, "These are great masters from many different disciplines, It dose't matter what style you practice. Much more important are the reasons you practice. What these great ones have in common is that they all saw their art a more the fighting, understood that martial arts is a path to help strengthen their mind, body and spirit, so they can defeat their internal demons."
John realized that, for years, he had been looking for the greatest style, feeling that, if he could find it, it would turn him into a great martial artist, But he needed to examine his motivation for practice as well as what he got out of his practice. Now it seamed that the first step in being a great martial artist was to see the practice as more than just fighting, to understand that it is a discipline that can lead to self-knowledge.
In the beginning of practice, people desire confidence and self defense skills. Once acquired, they start to see how the art effects their life.