One-On-One with Freddie Lee: Competition
Competition fighting is all about egos. Without an ego you would not be in competition. That is the fostering of the opposite of what the spiritual side of martial arts should really be about, which is to destroy the ego, not foster it in which to make it stronger. Competition fighters are extremely dedicated athletes; they are great athletes likened to football players, basketball players, gymnasts, etc. They have come close to perfection of the physical aspect of the martial arts, but have denied the mental and spiritual aspects which are just as important if not more important. There are great people in all fields of study, great psychologists, doctors, teachers, etc. Educators are contributing something that is much more valuable to the society than a brute that can be put in the ring like an animal for a crowd to watch in a fight. How in any way is that to benefit the society other then to motivate more humans to do the same?
As for basketball, baseball, and various other sports, it’s a game and people are not playing it to hurt one another. But in competition fighting, people are doing whatever they can to hurt one another. The more they hurt one another the better. What is the sense in that? If people really want to hurt one another then why not just go to war? But yet war and gun violence is discouraged but yet televised public displays of individuals bashing one another with fists and feet is somehow accepted.
Competition tournament fighting just serves to reinforce and develop the ego in man that should be eliminated. Being drawn into competition fighting is basically going backwards rather than forwards in the progression to spirituality. If some great fighter can beat up another man, what does that really prove? One man is just proving his physical excellence over someone else, but why is that important? Does an adult male need to prove his excellence over a toddler by putting the toddler in the hospital? Does an adult male need to prove his excellence over a woman and rape her against her will?
If person A is a better fighter than person B and overpowers person B in a ring fight, what has person A really proved? Person A was able to beat person B on the Monday night fight, but what about Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other following day? If person B was smart and knew that person A had an advantage over him physically, person B would not have even gotten in that ring fight and would have devised a more tactical way to destroy person A. Person B could gather a couple of his friends sneak up behind person A and beat him to submission. Person B could get a gun, knife, or any weapon and batter person A when person A is not paying attention. But if person B did any of these acts it would be discouraged by the society and it would land him in jail. But what is so different than that and competition fighting?
Violence is violence, organized or not, no matter if both parties agree to participate in the violence it still is violence that the society would be better off without. If competition fighters are admired by the society then street gangs and thugs should be admired as well. Gangs and thugs on the streets have basically an agreed organized form of violence of which many times involve gun violence, but yet this is discouraged by the society. But say they did not use guns and they all just got together in the streets and started fist fighting one another, what difference is that compared to competition fighting? On the streets they would all be put in jail for disorderly conduct but yet when televised to the nation, not only are they free from being arrested put they are given money and social approval. There are laws against organized animal fighting but yet there are no laws against organized human fighting.
It does not matter how much of a great fighter one single person is. One person with a gun no matter how weak or small can take the life of a competition fighter. One person with a hidden knife can take the competition fighters life when his head is turned. One competition fighter cannot overcome a gang of 50 people who are going to take advantage of him and do whatever they want to him. In the prisons, in the streets, and in modern times, it’s about affiliation, numbers, acceptance, groups, weapons, etc. One person’s physical ability can never compete against a crowd of adults that are willing to take this person’s life.
Admiring competition fighters is really not too different than admiring a street thug who has no care or worry for his life. He is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his pride and respect because that is all he lives for. If someone disrespects him in anyway, this thug will not hesitate to take another person’s life. Competition fighters are not people that are tough and fearful compared to the people affiliated to the mafia like in the movie “Godfather”. That is the modern representation of coercive power, not some individual that can just punch and kick effectively.
Some people practice competition fighting to intimidate others. But a person who has a firearm and is not afraid to use it is more intimidating than a competition fighter. One who is affiliated with a mafia or a powerful gang is more intimidating than a competition fighter. An enemy disguised as a friend that is waiting for the right time to batter you is more intimidating than a competition fighter.
Competition based fighting is closer to Martial Sport than Martial Art. Competition sport fighters have definitely already lost the understanding of being an artist because if they had attained proper mental and spiritual awareness they would not be entering in such competitions in the first place.
One can travel around the nation and win as many tournaments as possible, but what does that prove? That one is the greatest fighter? Surely this cannot be true as it is literally impossible to fight a world of billions of civilians. So really what is the purpose of this brutal journey?
Competition sport fighters have great skill in the ring but what they do is far from reality. In real life, there is a high likelihood there will be multiple offenders. In real life, all sorts of weapons can be used, such as a knife, gun, beer bottle, bat, etc. In real life, there is no judge to stop the fight, in real life, people go to the hospital, people get arrested and charged, and people even die. In real life, you may be fighting for your life spontaneously with no preparation or knowledge of who you will be fighting or when. There are many factors that completely change the priorities of proper training for survival opposed to competition fighting.
A true martial artist is an artist who has destroyed the inner ego from within in which to foster peace and love. The goal of Martial Art is to develop oneself into a more peaceful individual. Not a competitive and violent individual that wishes to boast of the effectiveness of his technique by violently destroying a weaker individual. Becoming extremely proficient in the Martial Arts is likened to being in possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon. A lethal weapon in the wrong hands is devastating to society. A lethal weapon in the right hands can be used to protect those that need protection.
Therefore the most practical aspect of Martial Art in modern society is not the perfection of fighting techniques but rather the perfection of the inner spirit that fosters love, compassion, and peace. Examples of individuals that have achieved the elite development of the spirit are Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Dali-Lama, Confucius, Osho, Buddha, and Lao-tzu. Martial Art should simply be used as a means into achieving true peace of mind. If one was to ever achieve true peace of mind, a true Martial Artist would never compete with another in order to assert himself. If one ceases to be competitive and if one ceases to be violent; he will attract peace within his life. And he would rarely if ever have to result in utilizing his physical ability to defend himself from violent encounters.
Sifu Freddie Lee