Article:    On bravery

I’ve been going to lots of art shows and openings recently with my wife Judy and have been really impressed by the bravery shown by some artists. Of course it’s a mixed bag. Some of it is rubbish but the good stuff is very brave. Brave in the way that they put themselves out there for everyone to see. They don’t hide anything and could be ridiculed. That’s a tough thing to do. This made me think about the different types of bravery. A radio show today on black heavyweight champion boxers talked about the opprobrium dumped on Muhammed Ali when he changed his name from Cassius Clay and wouldn’t accept the draft into the army. There’s a man who was brave both physically but also spiritually, emotionally.

Martial arts should aim at developing all types of bravery but sometimes is used as an armour to hide who you really are. The aim is to make you strong so that you can open yourself and not be in protection mode. Holding your body defensively but free in movement and in spirit. In California they’d call it self realisation. Whatever it’s called it’s about pushing your envelope even if it’s only to know where you’re boundaries are. Renowned Yoga teacher Eric Shiffman talks about doing the corpse pose (savasana) as if you are the corpse of a cow in the desert. The aim is to open yourself and let go of protection, letting the buzzards come and pick at you. The mental quest Shiffman says is to realise you can let go, open yourself until there’s nothing there but gold. Abandoning protection mechanisms lets our body flow, strangely controls fear by embracing it and is often a huge emotional release.

A similar but simpler step is used in JKD and other arts where you have to go with the flow. Not knowing the outcome but trusting or believing that it will all be ok. It’s going with the flow. Being brave but not even seeing it that way just an abandonment of expectation of good or bad but just accepting what is. For my own part I realise I’m quite brave in certain aspects of my life yet not so strong in others. So like most people I have yet more work to do. Art, Yoga, Music, Fighting. Performance and creativity in all of these areas is first about doing your work, your basics but the great people are truly brave. Prepared to look stupid, prepared to lose, going with the flow and being creative. When we look at other people who aren’t fighters we should have the humility to realise that maybe these people aren’t physically brave but they may be braver than us in every other aspect of their life. The physical is one place to start. How great that no matter where you are there’s always more to do/be or let go of. Enjoy the trip and embrace the force.