“The only reason men fight is because they are insecure; one man needs to prove that he is better or stronger than another. The man who is secure within himself has no need to prove anything with force, so he can walk away from a fight with dignity and pride. He is the true martial artist – a man so strong inside that he has no need to demonstrate his power.” – Ed Parker
The concept that this quote, pulled from Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams, presents is a hard one for those that are looking in on the martial arts from the outside to understand. Many cannot imagine this being the case when the instructors are usually heard saying things along the lines of “if he doesn’t let go hit him for real and he will” when talking to a pair working on grab defenses. Or when advanced classes spend an hour learning different ways to kill their attacker with the attacker’s own knife. So how does something that is so violent on the face of it turn into a deterrent from fighting? The quote to the left continues below
In the first part of this quote Parker says “a man so strong inside he has no need to demonstrate power”. His use of the word “strong” is important because many consider backing down from a fight to show weakness but in fact, it takes courage when done for the right reasons.
When I started training in the year 2000 my teacher, Shihan George Thibault, told me something that I have been trying to understand since “As a white belt you work towards a black belt and as a black belt you work back to white”. This has a literal translation because as the layers of your black belt are worn away it turns white again, but there are far more layers to this thought. In the confines of this article, I believe it suggests that one must remain humble enough to appear week no matter how strong you actually are.