Who Is The Martial Arts Master

Who’s The Master … a Quality of a Martial Arts Master

by Keith Pascal

Looking around the room at a martial arts “event,” can you tell which of these men and women are beginners, advanced students, teachers, or … the true martial arts masters?

In your mind, are you saying …

No, no, no, no … YES! A Martial Arts Master

I think a lot of extremely competent martial artists get in their own way on the path to becoming a martial arts master.

Would you agree?


Projecting the Image of a Martial Arts Master

Part of the impediment comes from trying to project the “image” of a master.

In past articles, we already discussed that people who present themselves as masters probably aren’t.

So, we know that you don’t have to declare that you are, in order to become one. You also don’t have to act the part; putting on the air of being a master, does a lot to sully the image of a true martial arts master.

The pretense of acting like one, tarnishes the image of a true master. Ironic, isn’t it?

I think many of you would agree with the above … if, and only if, you aren’t one of the ones who makes an effort to project the “master image.”


Clues without Seeing the Master Executing Techniques

Without witnessing perfect techniques and tactics, seeing examples of an almost supernatural awareness, and applauding someone taking on a group of multiple attackers like it was an easy video game, is it possible to identify an individual who has all the skills of an accomplished master of one or more fighting arts?

Can you tell a master just by looking at him or her?

I’m sure you have your biases. For example, maybe you think that there is no such thing as an overweight master. (I disagree, by the way.) Or to you, a master may have to have gray hair and have more years behind than ahead. (Again, I disagree.)

How do separate the masters from just advanced martial artists?

Is there a difference?

I believe there is a difference. In my noggin, a master doesn’t necessarily “look” like a martial arts master.

They look plain … and they certainly don’t wear anything that would identify them as “the master,” especially when out in public:

At a martial arts venue, you see a number of blackbelts stand in a neutral position at the side of the room, with legs about shoulder-width apart, and arms crossed.

Nope. These guys may be black belts, but they are NOT the masters of the art. Advanced, yes; masters, no.

What about the guys flexing their muscles or affecting a stiff posture?

No, not them either.

How about the guys and gals with “attitude”? You know … they project the grimace, mean-dude (or dudette) expression and way of carrying themselves.

(Keith shakes his head, no.) These folk don’t impress me much, either.

So, in a room of martial artists, which is the most likely to be the master?


Subtle Clues

Look for the person who is aware of his space and easily moves from one part of the room to another without ever accidentally bumping into anyone else.

Look for an easygoing nature.

The master doesn’t have to fear others, so you don’t see a lot of defensive posturing.

You also won’t see the masters asserting themselves in the pack by exhibiting “alpha” behaviors. The masters don’t mind staying out of the limelight.

The master also tries to avoid conflict. What some mistake as innocence is really a desire to emphasize the positive, and only get forceful … if “forced” into it.

Last but not least, for today … a master will notice a change in the room before almost anyone else, but you usually won’t see an overt reaction to a disruption.

The response by the master is subtle, just enough to shift some variable in the potential encounter.

And there you have it.

Have you seen any martial arts masters lately?



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