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"Shut Up and Train"

While this blog is written with regard to Jeet Kune Do, it actually applies to all martial arts and all martial artists.

I cannot think of the number of times over the years I’ve been a martial artist that I’ve seen, heard, or read the quote “Shut up and train” used in martial art circles. Most of the times when the quote is used, especially with regard to Jeet Kune Do, it’s used in terms of one person or group of people complaining, bitching, or whining about what another person or group is saying or doing. “We’re right and their wrong, etc.” - “We have the real thing and they don’t”, etc. It’s political in nature, and it’s negative.

I’d like to offer you a different (and I believe a better and much more positive) perspective on the use of the quote.

Renowned American dance choreographer Twyla Tharp has been known to make the comment “Shut up and dance” -- because she believes that if you are moving through time and space -- if you’re walking --you’re dancing. She believes that humans can all dance; that it’s within the reach of everyone, not something reserved for only a chosen few.

In the same way Ms. Tharp believes we can all dance, I believe that there is a martial artist within each and every person. And through movement we can awaken it and bring it out. As with dance, martial arts can be an incredible way to say thank you to our body, to learn about ourselves, and to express ourselves. There are physical truths and behavioral values and emotional reservoirs that we can be investigate, discover, cultivate, and demonstrate by our body in motion. The best part is that you don’t need an expert to show you the way in. You can find your own.

For some individuals, Jeet Kune Do may be what they want or need. That will be their way in. For others it might be something else – perhaps traditional arts with various movement forms or katas – the swirling, acrobatic movements of Wu Shu -- or the slow and centered movements of Tai Chi Chuan. The vehicle itself is not important.

In my eyes, martial art has no end point – no cessation point. You are always pushing yourself for optimal performance, competing only with yourself. Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the greatest dancers of the twentieth century who still dances today, at age 73 stated, “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” The only true metric you should choose to measure your success is “Have I done my personal best?”

Each time you work out, every time you train, make it a living performance. Make each day one where you discover, learn and grow in some way, be it physically, mentally, emotionally, or even spiritually. As I said in another blog, when it comes to martial art training we’re never too old or too experienced or too advanced to discover the enjoyment of our body in movement, in action. So I exhort you, albeit in a positive way, to “shut up and train.”

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