If you’ve been selected for a difficult journey, usually you’re the luckier one because you are forced to overcome it and subsequently forge a new path, a road not previously taken, and as a result discover a new level of being.
I relate so strongly to martial arts because whilst each and everyone of us is a fighter, fighting our own individual battles, martial arts are a physical manifestation of that fight. Take muay thai for example – it is bloody, it is hard, it is passionate, it is technical, it is a game, it is powerful, it is beautiful; ultimately, it represents life.
It is rather ironic that as someone who at times finds it difficult to voice sentiments of unease, I can so comfortably practice martial arts. Where my voice falters, my body does not. Perhaps one of the reasons Muay Thai has clung to me like a second skin is because it is the physical manifestation of what I am often not able to voice. It gives me an outlet to be strong where spoken words fail me.
You know that saying, that if a tree falls in a forest but no one is there to hear it, then does it really fall? In London or Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh, cities where we are all fighting for space to breath, we witness people struggle on a daily basis. We see them fall but choose not to hear. Then, there are martial arts; safe spaces where something that is inherently unnatural – falling – becomes second nature. We learn to fall, we learn to stand up. We learn to knock people down, we learn to be knocked down, but ultimately, they are lessons learnt together, rooted in mutual respect. Maybe this is what society needs, to learn to fall and then recover. If we can teach individuals means of raising themselves independently, then ultimately, everyone will have the ability and potential to stand shoulder to shoulder, so that we can then look across the horizon with the same perspective.