Grandmaster is retiring on Halloween. My martial arts school is closing. In the grand scheme of things, that is probably not news of great significance. Yet, it does set ripples in motion, and who knows where those ripples might lead.
For those of us who are students at the school, the change is definitely significant. We will need to transfer to other schools, find other schools, or retire ourselves from what has been a part of our lives – for some of us, a large part of our lives. For Grandmaster, the change is immense – he is retiring from what has been most of his life, and now must find another way forward.
So, life changes. What ripples will this change bring? Grandmaster is an old school teacher. Along with kicks and punches and self-defense, he teaches patience, respect, courage, kindness, persistence, focus, confidence, resilience, and responsibility – things the TV portrayals of martial arts lack. The irony is that these qualities, often subsumed under the concept of “strong mind”, are actually more important to the growth of the martial artist than is the skill of high leaps and fancy forms. That is not to demean the physical skills – they are important, too, for self-defense, and for competition for those so inclined. Even more importantly, they facilitate a balanced and healthy body, which supports a balanced and healthy strong mind.
With Grandmaster’s retirement, those skills are lost to the world in the measure that he gave them. New students will no longer learn from him. Hopefully, enough of us have internalized what he taught so that we can carry them forth into the world, perhaps in ways not directly related to martial arts. Hopefully, they will not be lost, just included in other ways, transmuted but preserved in essence.
Godspeed, Grandmaster, in your retirement. May your way forward be smooth, and may we all also find our ways to the next steps in our lives.