A CALL to ARMS to all Martial Artists

This post is also available in: Italian

This post is the first in a series of articles under the topic; “Restoring INTEGRITY, HONOR, and RESPECT to the Martial Arts”. Nothing written here is intended as an indictment against any particular individual and/or organization. It is simply an effort to shed the light of truth on some very significant practices and emerging “norms’ that appear to have begun to undermine many of the most positive benefits of martial arts activity. If we, the passionate practitioners and alleged “LEADERS” of the Martial Arts do no stand together for TRUTH, JUSTICE, and INTEGRITY, then we will continue to see the degradation of those things which have benefited us greatly and the subsequent disappearance of the fruits of those noble predecessors who sacrificed much so that we can enjoy what we have today. Please join in the discussion, constructively, and positively. There can be strength in numbers, however, history has shown us that even a few passionate and determined patriots can ignite the brushfires of a justifiable revolution. Let us work together to establish and maintain Might for Right!

Shihan Pascetta - training at traditional GoJu-ryu Dojo, Okinawa - Circa 1987

WALK or TALK?

As I have previously contended, the difference between Martial “Technique” and Martial “Art” is that with Martial Arts training there exists the uniquely specific opportunity for the inclusion of all areas of development of the full human potential: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual.  The hypothetical search for balance and harmony between these human aspects and the noble principles learned are implied by the term “DO” (DAO), sometimes translated/interpreted as the “WAY” or “PATH”. (Please do not confuse this “Philosophy” with the “Religion” named, “Daoism”, although there may exist some parallels.)

We, however, as martial arts practitioners and alleged leaders have a much greater responsibility to “WALK the  WALK”, not just “TALK the TALK”. As with many other human endeavors, our flowery words sound wonderful and can be inspiring to many. The primary issue presented along with these “ethics” is the challenge to each of us to put our high sounding words and philosophy into ACTION.  “Congruous ACTION forms the substance of any alleged philosophy.”

In recent years we have experienced quite a disappointing degradation of the Integrity, Respect, and Honor in the Martial Arts. These changes have been facilitated by too many martial arts leaders and practitioners (including Asian, Western, European, and Middle Eastern) who tend to apply such high standards when in judgment of other’s actions but regularly find convenient excuses for their own lapses of integrity and honesty.

It seems that the competition for acceptance and maintenance of our individual place in the “pecking order” within the world of martial arts has successfully tempted many (even the previously credible) martial artists to exaggerate, distort, manipulate, and otherwise rationalize their own departure from truth/reality and from the very values and ethics they fervently preach about.  It has been quite interesting to observe how so many have conveniently attempted to re-write, amend, and downright distort their own history and even that of others when it serves their purpose.

William Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing more common than the desire to be remarkable.” (Quite profound!) Where else, other than in martial arts and religion, can an unremarkable individual present themselves as “remarkable” with little real evidence to support such preposterous claims? In what other activity can an individual with minimal education, research, and pertinent, verifiable actions and/or accomplishments claim the status of “Master”, “Grand Master”, Hanshi, Shihan, Soke, and/or any of a plethora of grandiose titles ad nauseum? Where else can individuals create a pseudo-persona with the stroke of a pen, an embroidered belt/sash, and a slick website while those of credible substance look the other way and continue to play this game of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”?

On the  other hand, some martial artists are second only to overly religious individuals in their self-righteous application of their values and ethics upon others while forgiving themselves for even more egregious compromises of the same. (Please note that this statement is not intended as an indictment of anyone who has a sincere, profound faith or personal relationship with the Creator of all things. If, in fact, you do feel convicted by this statement, the perhaps you may consider examining the profound difference between man-made “religion” and GOD inspired “relationship”.) In the Bible, the Book of Matthew (Chapter 7, verse 3, 4, & 5), the author states: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck for your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own? Hypocrite: first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” NKJV

Shihan Pascetta - Teaching at AGKI Dojo, Hurffville, NJ - Circa 1974

7 STEPS toward Integrity, Honor, and Respect

Therefore, I challenge everyone within the reach of these words (starting with myself)  to make a personal pledge to execute the following 7 STEPS:

1.) First, CLEAN YOUR OWN  HOUSE.  Begin by taking a long hard look in the mirror.

2.) RESIST focusing on the shortcomings of others. Save your efforts and energy for more constructive goals.

a.) This does not mean to ignore dishonesty or falsity. If honest men do not stand up for honest words and their congruent actions then evil will prevail. Be advised to remember that a “half truth”  is simply a disguising word for a “lie”.

b.) The best way to flush out dishonesty is to humbly demonstrate and/or present that which is honest directly next to what is dishonest. (The operative word here is “humbly”. )

c.) People are not stupid, they will see the contrast for themselves, can make their own evaluations, and form their own opinions.

d.) Those who are not interested in honesty deserve the consequences of their own choices, so allow them to suffer what they choose! Many times “pain” is the best school master anyway.

3.) BE ENCOURAGED to find the COURAGE to admit (first to yourself) those exaggerations, partial truths, and excesses that you have tolerated to seep  into your own actions and with those under your charge.

a.) Remember that true “COURAGE” is not the absence of fear, rather it is the taking of action in spite of fear.”

b.) It takes much courage to admit your own errors and misjudgments. First, to yourself, and when appropriate, to others who matter.

4.) TAKE ACTION, be the first to change direction and turn from this behavior. In doing that, let those actions serve as a living, breathing example of real “ETHICS”.

5.) BECOME the “LEADER” by doing these things first . That, in itself, will be “REMARKABLE”!

6.) REMEMBER, also that  “INTEGRITY IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS WATCHING!”

a.) One definition of “Illusion” is when one creates the appearance of reality out non-reality.

b.) A definition of “Delusion” is when one actually believes his own propaganda!

7.) A “LEADER” is someone who does something first.

a.) If you honestly consider yourself to be a TRUE LEADER then be first do what is right by your own actions, regardless of any immediate and/or temporary gain or loss.

b.) You may actually surprise someone!

Shihan Pascetta (Sai) & Master R.G. Bowling (Bo)- Okinawa - Circa 1987

PART OF THE SOLUTION OR PART OF THE PROBLEM?

It is long past due in this world that PEOPLE of CHARACTER begin to “MAKE IT REAL”, to “BE REAL” and then to continue to “KEEP IT REAL”.  This CALL TO ARMS applies not only “IN THE DOJO” but more significantly, “IN EVERYDAY LIFE” among your family, friends, and community. Only then will we truly become “DOERS of the WAY” rather than merely “TALKERS of the WAY”.

I exhort you to let your daily actions become the most profound “teacher” of your alleged philosophy. Only then will we return to our rightful role to remain relevant and make any significant difference in today’s society where the “anti-hero” has become glorified while the wholesome men and women sincerely seeking righteousness and truth have more commonly become marginalized and even ridiculed.  If you do not purpose in your heart to make your actions part of the solution, then you will ultimately resign yourself to being a part of the problem. The choice is yours and yours alone.

TAKE NOTICE AND GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.

“….AND THAT’S THE WAY I SEE IT!©

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One Comment

  • Outstanding, your articles are very important in today's society. You are a true Martial Artist. I hope you do a book I will be the first one to buy it.

    • rpascetta says:

      Thank you. Master Ameris for your generous compliments and for contributing to the interaction here. I am well aware of the excellent quality of your own martial arts. So, from you, this is an even greater compliment.

      The "book" thing has been a long time in coming. I have written many articles and several detailed manuals but the "book" continues to elude me. I have actually started many times only to be sidetracked by other activities and projects. As you can probably tell, I enjoy writing. Descriptive words and expressions flow fairly smoothly for me. I hate to make excuses but as an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder the challenge has always been to follow through and complete long term written projects. Many who know me may be surprised to hear of this handicap because I have been successful in other areas where I have been very disciplined. Martial Arts certainly has brought a level of discipline to my life that has allowed me to gain ground in this struggle and I am thankful for those areas of my life that are discipline.

      In spite of this deficiency, the LORD has blessed me with other talents that seem to counterbalance those deficiencies. It seems that, for those reasons I have still been able to excel in the academic areas of my life. In response to you encouragement, the bottom line is that if I can stay on schedule enough time consistently to focus, un-focus, and refocus enough times, perhaps I will achieve the goal of completing that volume. Until then, I will continue to try to put my thoughts and contributions down, one article at a time. (Off the record, I do have about 40+ pages completed (without graphics, charts, o rphotos added yet toward the writing of my first book, wish me luck. 😉 )

      So, now you and the readers know one of my lifelong handicaps. I hope I haven't bored anyone with this information. I sincerely appreciate all your encouragement and perhaps this long winded response may be useful for shedding light on this particular issue for others struggling with the same handicap. Never give up hope of achieving all you envision and desire. The scripture states that we each are "wonderfully and fearfully made" by our Creator and HE doesn't make mistakes.

      So whatever cards we are dealt in life, it matters more how you play your hand rather than if you believe that you didn't happened to get the "luck of the draw". We each have a choice either to allow adversity to motivate us or discourage us. Never give up hope of achieving all you envision and desire. As martial artists, we learn to be "warriors" and fight the good fight standing up for truth and justice. And for those believers of the WORD, don't let your heart be troubled because it has been written that "…We are more than conquerors"!!!

  • Robert McCourtney says:

    I have so much to learn from you Shihan. I should of been more forgiving on Saturday. Great article, and I will reflect on you thoughts…

    • rpascetta says:

      Hi Robert,

      I'm looking forward to training together and hope we can begin soon. I am also excited about the other projects we have discussed. BTW, don't beat yourself up over your reaction to that strange situation. You acted appropriately. Yes, we are definitely called by scripture to forgive, however, please remember that forgiving doesn't imply nor require "condoning" or "rationalizing" bad behavior. It simply means that we let go of our desire for "justice" step back and trust that GOD is in charge, not us. How interesting is it that whenever we offend someone or make errors we hope for "grace', mercy, and forgiveness but whenever we are offended, we typically want "justice"!

      Although you seem to have your mind wrapped around this situation in a very constructive way, in the future, if you are ever tempted to retaliate or seek retribution from someone who has wronged you, just remind yourself that the sweetest "revenge" is simply for you move forward with happiness in your life in spite of any past violation against you. Forgiveness is not acknowledgment and/or acceptance of any poor behavior on the part of the perpetrator. It is simply letting go of your desire/right for retribution and justice while trusting the LORD to deal with the situation on HIS time schedule and in HIS own way. This process can be extremely freeing and uplifting and is extremely healthy.

      Thx, also for the feedback concerning this article.

  • Jim Mather says:

    Great post and hit many nails on the head.

    I've unfortunately not always done things as well as I wish I had on occasion. But I always noted it when I realized my mistake and vowed never to do it again. I think a martial artist must be brutally honest with himself. Sun Tzu said we had to know ourselves and our enemies if we are to be victorious. Many know their enemies far better than themselves. They aren't able to recognize shortcomings in themselves and, if their enemies recognize them before they do, they can be used against them with dire results.

    Thanks again for a great post and taking point in cleaning up a major need in our art. Jim

    • rpascetta says:

      Thx Jim, for taking the time from your busy schedule to share your insights. For those online who read the Blog here, I believe you would find it inspiring, educational, and very interesting to check out his BLOG at jimmatherskaratelife.blogspot.com. I personally follow much of his writing for inspiration and to expand my own knowledge. As per your comments above, Jim, we agree yet again. I firmly believe that the highest level of growth from the martial arts experience is in conquering the "enemy" within. I found very early in my own competitive career that when I entered the ring I was many times outnumbered two to one. I was fighting two opponents, myself and my adversary. If he was in the same predicament then the other factors differing between us seemed to have the most affect on the outcome. If he had come to peace with himself, I was in trouble. When I began to understand and work toward conquering my own doubts, fears, and internal conflicts, I began to have much more success and the "game" even began to be more enjoyable. I have found the same principles apply to any other conflict in life; physical, intellectual, emotional, social, even health wise. I truly believe that this is one of the "Secrets of the Masters" and the it is truly fits under what I have personally identified as a "Universal Principle". My own definition for that term is that it represents a principle that transcends barriers and dimensions and remains true and reliable when applied to any area of reality.

      As far as the "Cleaning up" you mentioned is concerned, there is much work to be done and I have no illusion that I have either the qualifications or authority to pass judgment on other Martial Artists. We are however, given the gift of discernment if we ask for it. We are exhort to "speak the truth in love" and "hate the sin, not the sinner". Are there any of us that is without fault? Those are the guidelines I struggle to maintain and sometimes do better than at other times. All I know is that whenever I find myself critical of other Martial Artists, I find myself convicted and looking harder in the mirror examining my own motivations, intentions, and subsequent actions. There is a lot to be said for the saying, "If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones."

      I also find that it is very easy to compare my own errors with others and come to the convenient, self serving conclusion that mine are not as bad or egregious as the others that offend my values and ethics. Like I wrote before, when we, ourselves, mess up we want mercy, grace, and forgiveness but when others offend us we want "justice"! Like most others, I feel the same, however, my faith convicts me to take a step back and reconsider. First, that doesn't mean to condone or turn a blind eye toward offensive, or dishonest activity. I believe that if men of integrity and character will not stand up for truth and righteousness, then evil will prevail. As leaders of men, we need to have the courage to stand in the gap. However, we need to do that with humility and respect, even in the face of the bad deeds of the others.

      Only in that manner will we have the unique opportunity to inspire others to turn to the truth and overcome their own temptations to act selfishly. I am not an "unselfish" person, however, I have found that the happiest people on earth are those who are the most generous in giving of themselves to others. Strange that that is what the scripture teaches us to do. Hmmmmm.. maybe there is some wisdom there? Further, I am not a big fan of allowing excuses from grown men or women for inappropriate or destructive behavior. (I'm referring to, the "I had a difficult childhood, or I was poor, or "the devil made me do it, Daddy!", etc. Although these maybe legitimate defining factors that may readily contribute to forming poor choices and behavior, once we are adults, it's time to step up to the plate. Man up and take responsibility for our adult choices.) Regardless, there can still be constructive ways to help empower even an individual who is going in the wrong direction to change course.

      It is pretty difficult to "make" someone do what is not in their hearts so then it seems more appropriate to strive to inspire them to greatness more by you own deeds, strength of character, honest constructive criticism, but without self righteous arrogance, or condescending attitude. It's a challenge that we need to consider if we are really the "leaders" we purport ourselves to be.

      Rather than simply identify this increasingly growing problem of credibility among martial artists and expose the culprits or "throw the bums out". I sincerely believe that we could have a greater degree of success if we purposed in our hearts to make a strong effort to provide means for those who are less that credible to achieve a higher level skill, knowledge, and subsequent credibility. By credibility, I'm not referring to potentially hollow symbols of status such more certificates or watered down "Halls of Fame" awards. I'm referring to giving a hand up rather than a hand out to those who want so badly to gain approval, acceptance, and status that motivated them to inflate their credentials, and/or accomplishments, assign themselves grandiose titles, accept unmerited awards that are clearly were created as a means to scam desperate people out of their money in order to rationalize their fantasy and delusions.

      In future articles I plan to outline some positive and constructive steps that we can do to help these individuals achieve a higher technical level, and clearer understanding of the substance that must exist and that is associated with the "ranking systems" now being abused, and the opportunity to work their way to earning greater respect based on verifiable accomplishments and achievements, not only in their technical levels, but in conceptual levels, and in ethical levels as well. I'm sure you have seen even martial artists who have substantial physical skills very much equal to a high ranking status but then have "white belt" level values and ethics! Here is another example of what I previously defined as martial "techniques" as opposed to martial "arts". We need to educate the public to these differences and use language they can relate to and understand. A well informed public will then begin to make the choices whether they wish to support wholesome martial arts values or substandard nonsense.

      If we, the senior Masters and lifelong devotees of the martial arts are not able to inspire this element in our field to change course and further, if we are not able to help create vehicles for the transformation of these advanced martial artists into legitimate master level teachers, then I believe we have begun to see the beginning of the end of something that has made such a powerful impact on our lives and so many of our direct students. This is no task for any one man. We cannot be the "belt police", it will never work. Remember, however, that we were inspired by the example of those who came before us and we need now of take up that mantle and search for ways to inspire those younger men and women in our MA world to aspire to a higher standard.

      For this end I have begun writing and reaching out to find like-minded colleagues who are not afraid to work shoulder to shoulder, locking shields like the 300 and standing in the gap for the nest generation. I pray that will be our legacy to add to the hard work and sacrifices of the founders (some of whom have given us their best. I have no illusion of grandeur and know I am not One of One, but simply one of many. But as I study the history of this country and compare it with the rest of history of human civilization this culture has been unique in many ways and I am inspired. Even at this moment in history, we are at a crossroads to chose between renewing the values that made this country the greatest experiment in human government or follow the idiocy of most of the rest of the world and resolve ourselves to the same mediocrity.

      As I wrote in the last article, only a handful of "patriots" started the brushfires that ignited the passions of ordinary citizens to rise up against something dishonest and evil. Most people won't get up off of their couches and are satisfied to live like a frog in the water of a pot where you gradually turn up the heat. It will remain there without moving, feeling comfortable and adjusting to the gradual rise in temperature until it finally is boiled to death.

      If we are truly the "leaders" of this generation, then it is our responsibility to inspire change for the better. If we blink or shirk that, who will do it? No one. Anyway, I hope I haven't scared anyone away with this discussion. I hope to find other inspirational leaders to share the burden. I sincerely believe that we can make a difference and many, like yourself, already are doing their part. But with a little more unity of purpose and efforts, we may actually be able to move the mountain. Perhaps I am simply a dreamer or another old man with pie in the sky hopes. Only time will tell but while I am still breathing I have purposed in my heart to stay relevant. Thanks again for reading my banter here. Please let me know your ideas and any way I can support your efforts in this direction. If you would like to talk directly, let me know and I will email you my cell phone number.

      GOD bless and take care.

  • Pete Ticali says:

    Hi Ric; so happy to see you stepping out here….. Often the "politeness" we were raised on, has us being silent.. till we see others saying what we've been thinking! I'm a kind of storyteller, by nature. Once in a while you find one that gleens little jewels… I think that describes many (probably all) or our martial arts backgrounds… starting on the surface stuff then relearning and revisiting any adding the depth of mind, body and spirit that only aging and experience can bring.
    Heres a little ditty that will boast Bravado for the new kids while offering food for thought for us older guys…. I added a few sentences at the end, to possibly evoke your readers to how many of us feel or place in the world is demarcated…
    Hope you enjoy!………………………………………………. see comment #2

  • Pete Ticali says:

    THE WARRIOR SHOWS HIS SWORD
    Stand up with dignity over the earth. Show that you are ready to fight till death.
    Your hands hold the sword. In profile, it's sharp ends point forward.
    Demarcate a territory, be the lord of it.
    Emanate silent power. All the fury is awakened but concealed, ready to spring forth.
    May your adversary see that the whole universe is standing in front of him.
    Roar if it is necessary. Howl like the wolf in the mountains.
    Bristle your enemies skin. Intimidate him with a shining glance…
    The combat will be avoided. Life will be preserved….
    Retire humbly;…even when you have triumphed.
    This is the way of the warrior…………………………………… see part three

  • Pete Ticali says:

    Now know…. that this was merely a test.
    The real battle lies in your ability to live up to your standards.
    You are the reflection of every warrior who walked before you,
    And the shadow of every warrior, who whose seeds you have planted.
    ………………………………………………………………………
    Immortality is for them whose reflection is equal to their shadow,
    For they, shall be the guideposts for those who follow the way.
    Are you up to the calling?

    • rpascetta says:

      WOW, Pete. These submission are both very creative and very inspiring. I'm impressed with the way you used fantasy to inspire reality. You obviously have a talent.

  • KKennedy says:

    Words to live by,Shihan.Your sentiments ring true,and I hope more people have the conviction to stand and face themselves in the mirror.The world would be a better place all around.

    Pete-That was inspiring.Thanks.

  • Shihan Pascetta,

    This is an excellent post. I really enjoyed reading it and wish more people in the martial industry would take heed to your words. I have to say … you are right. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Best,
    Rob Colasanti
    robcolasanti.com

    • rpascetta says:

      Hi Rob,
      Thank you again for your encouragement and support. I am interested in publishing this article on other Martial Arts sites and/or Blogs. I was wondering if you may be able to help me toward that end.

      I expect to have a series of articles under the topic: "Restoring Integrity, Honor, and Respect in the Martial Arts". I intend to address specific practices that I sincerely believe have undermined the credibility of our industry and potential solutions to move it back toward a more legitimate, wholesome, and hopefully, robust state. As with this article I am not interested in naming names or directly criticizing any one person, group, or organizations. I believe we both know that would be futile and counter-productive. However, it is my opinion that if I, along with significant others who have the same convictions, are able to present in common sense, layman's terms, what could and should be industry standards, then I believe that those who deviate from those expected standards will feel the pressure to reform. An educated consumer can be a great influence in minimizing the effect of individuals who offer a substandard product, regardless of their hype.

      Further, one of my personal feelings is that some of the individuals who have less than credible histories may truly wish there was a way to move forward beyond those errors and develop better skills and subsequently find greater legitimacy. Perhaps they have more limited means to advance themselves outside of the BS groups and "leaders" we have seen prey on those who seem to hunger for exaggerated status. Am I being too optimistic?

      With regard to those people, I firmly believe that we would better serve the industry by creating opportunities for them to achieve such aspirations by providing practical, realistic mechanisms to give them a "hand up". I am not suggesting more diplomas or certificates but actual training and/or training programs, and structured outlines for them to follow to move toward a more legitimate mode of organizing their martial arts programs and curriculum, structuring their requirements for advancement, and teaching their programs more efficiently and effectively. I know that you have a great influence along with many professional contacts in the industry and perhaps you can help me to reach out and inspire others to work together for the betterment of the entire industry.

      Please let me know your thoughts and feelings.

  • Shihan says:

    There are 14 comments posted so far on this article, however, it seems that the advanced comment program, Intense Debate, being used on the PC is not loading on the browser for the iPhone. If anyone is interested in viewing the comments on this post they may have to view them online on a PC or Mac. Sorry for any inconvenience. Let’s see if this comment posts, since this comment is being sent from an iPhone.

  • Bob Straub says:

    AMEN!!!

    Thank you, Shihan, for an outstanding article. I pledge to follow the 7 steps to freedom (integrity, honor, respect).

    I just found your site. You're doing a wonderful job with it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    As one year closes and a new one begins, I look forward to what lies ahead. (Where does the time go?)

    I pray all is well with you and yours. God Bless!

    • rpascetta says:

      Great news and so good to hear from you, Bob. You're the first to actually state unequivocally that you will apply such high standards to yourself. I certainly don't intend to criticize or doubt any of the others here who have given much positive feedback but it is a breath of fresh air to hear of such a commitment to integrity with no hesitation.

      Thanks for your encouraging response and I hope to hear more from you. Wishing you and your family a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2011.

  • Abe says:

    Great post but history (at least in my lifetime) has told me most will just rationalize their own actions. They will take the easy path (which is usually the wrong path). Wouldn't be great if doing the right thing was easy and doing the wrong thing was hard? Such a thing is a fantasy, but I will say when one chooses to do the right thing consistantly it does become easier.

    • rpascetta says:

      It is unfortunate for all of us, Abe, that you are quite likely very accurate with your assessment. However, regardless of the course of action all others take, each one of us is accountable first for his/her own choices. If we examine history we can readily find that some truly remarkable changes have been inspired and lead by merely a small number of passionate and determined men/women dedicated to a legitimately righteous cause, beyond their own self-serving interests. The American revolution was one such event. And although this country and many of the actions of its founders have been far from perfect, this small group of patriots began what was to become one of the greatest experiments in human freedom and interaction in the history of mankind.

      There are many in the world who are the enemies of such liberty and believe that man must be bound, lead around by the nose, and manipulated even to do right for himself. They would like us to forget this history. They would like to distort and re-write the history of this inspiring behavior. This battle will likely rage on until the end of this earth. It is my desire and belief that the same spirit of liberty and righteous self examination lives on, especially in those Americans who have benefited so greatly from those who have come before us. We Americans, however, have no monopoly on the desire of most men throughout this world to breath free and choose our own lives. Further, if men of who aspire to righteousness stand by in the face of evil, then evil will prevail.

      I don't wish to exaggerate the significance of these issues, however, "A Call to ARMS…." is much more rudimentary than simply a Martial Arts issue. It goes to the very heart of the individual, and then to the alleged "Master" of the Martial Arts and all those who aspire to ever achieve such a level. Most Martial Artists have used the phrase, "Mind, Body, and Spirit" at some point in time when describing the potential for Martial Arts development, integration, and balance. The challenge in my article lends it self directly to the "Spiritual" part of Martial Arts development. A seminal question and subsequent challenge is, 'Are we truly individuals whose Martial Arts has impacted the values we live by, or are our words merely rhetoric, perhaps even a hollow advertising slogan?"

      INTEGRITY, sadly, is the ingredient that is most lacking in the spirit of men. INTEGRITY begins at home, each morning as we look in the mirror, each night as be say our prayers and our day comes to a end, as we breath our last breath and ultimately move on, standing before the LORD to answer for a lifetime of choices, both good and bad. INTEGRITY is what we do when no one seems to be looking. This is the challenge I put forth, first to myself daily, because I am the only one who can be held fully responsible for my own choices and actions. This is the challenge I put forth, second to all those who aspire to become what Martial Arts is alleged to represent. BE ADVISED, that without INTEGRITY, there can be no HONOR, and little legitimate RESPECT!This is the challenge I put forth to all the other "hypocrites", like myself, who struggle each day to live in a righteous manner, yet, still fall short with even the best of intentions. None of us are immune from being human, we have each acted hypocritically at one time of another.

      The failure to achieve perfection, however, is no excuse for the failure to be diligent in the pursuit of perfection. Further, it is specious logic to rationalize that, since some other leader or individual has erred in the past that his/her mistake is the standard by which we may now be justified in repeating such foolishness. I firmly believe that "Human Perfection" is most likely a contradiction in terms, however, a more realistic definition of "Human Perfection" is that it may actually be achieved when we have exhausted our individual efforts to do our very best with the limited knowledge and resources we possess at any given moment in time. It is my desire and prayer that even a small minority of Martial Artists who wish to be true to themselves will take action and light the fire of a reformation that could change the course of history, first for Martial Arts practitioners present and to to come, and second become a beacon of light in a ever deteriorating society.

      So, take courage and don't allow yourself or your voice to be drowned out by the crowd, or by the "HATERS" of TRUTH and INTEGRITY. Speak first with your actions, and then sit back and rest peacefully as you witness those same "HATERS" scrambling to hide from the light of truth, to rationalize away the stark contrast that will be created by any comparison. It is not our place and a waste of good time and effort to name names, and point the finger at those who think and/or act differently. If you feel motivated to share criticism with a friend, unless it is truly an issue of immoral/unlawful behavior, then do so in private and trust that your words will be heard in sincerity. Speak directly to the individual who appears to have erred rather than speaking about him/her to others. But most of all, let our own actions speak for themselves. The remainder will fall into place as it was meant to be, well beyond our own inspirations, desires, and design.

      Let's see what happens. :-}

      • Abe says:

        Very true well written, if your article inspires 1 person (and I am sure it already has inspired more then that) it was more then worth it. I just hope and pray its not too late, there is a lot of work to be done (as I am sure you are aware of) we are in a era where there are more "10 dans then then 1st dans." Is it me or are 10 dans getting younger these days, but the cream rises to the top and "real recognizes real." You are right we must do something " bad people only win, when good people sit back and do nothing."

  • Abe says:

    So we all must give 110% I am a firm believer that talk is cheap and actions are are expensive. This is easier said then done, easilly talked then walked. (lol), but as you said "perfection or the pursuit of perfection should not be discontinued because one makes a mistake or makes a unwise decision.

  • Abe says:

    However, an mistake namely interigrity or lacktherof is a tough one friend. To correct this error one must go through a couple phases. First, its denial "nah I'm a legit 10 dan so what Im only 40, so what I have only have an handful of students of my own."

    Second is the big one "anger" "who are you to question my ranking?"

    Thirdly its acceptance ("admitting ok Im wrong I made a poor choice (whatever that maybe), Lastly, redemption "that which you do to right your wrong."

    Most my friend don't get past the first phase, but those that make it to the end are better off for it. It takes a strong man and/or woman to look themselves in the face and "Make that Change" like Michael Jackson. lol.
    Nevertheless, I am a very optimistic person the glass is not half full with me its running over, but I have to (I think we all do ) be realistic about the situation. Your article is very encouraging and contagious hopefully it opens some eyes. Only time will tell!! GOd bless!!!

    • rpascetta says:

      Let's hope that there are more who take the initiative to accept the challenge I've presented here to all Martial Artists. We have had many positive responses to this article but few have actually stated, unequivocally, that they have accepted the challenge and are committed to follow the steps outlined. Your "4 Phases" seem pretty accurate and fit into the scenario I suggested in this article that each person must first "begin at home" and take a critical inventory of themselves and their own actions and choices, past and present. Not only alleged "10th Dans", but all who have accepted advanced degrees without comparing themselves with the highest standards. Not simply "standards" set by any one Master, one GrandMaster, or any one organization, but standards that would be beyond reproach acceptable in any corner of the World. Yes, only time will tell if these words will fall on deaf ears.

  • Heather Drapeau says:

    My name is Heather and I was an OTAR student of Rick Estrallado at Kadena AB USO Okinawa Japan and I'm trying to reach R.G. Bowling. I need a copy of the OTAR Kata. I stopped practicing the art after an injury received in the military causing me to have 8 knee surgeries. I need the kata to help me get back in shape. If anyone knows how to get in touch with Master Bowling, please have him contact me.

    Thank you and OSS

    • rpascetta says:

      Hi Heather,

      I'm sorry that I can't be of more assistance. I have not had contact with Master Bowling for quite a while now. Perhaps some of our other readers could help you regain contact. If you are successful at reaching him, please give him my regards and ask him to contact me.

    • Christine Travis says:

      I have not been in contact with Master Bowling for quite some time, not since he was here in Oklahoma. Which kata do you need? I practiced years ago and still have my book with kata breakdowns. E-mail me at pt_teearms@yahoo.com if you still need it. If I don't have it, you might try contacting Soke Dave Hendrick.