I started thinking about this post quite some time ago. I am pretty sure I mentioned that I would write it some day….so I guess I should make a start. I have had quite a few ideas so I will divide it rather than write a really long post. Watch this space for part 2.
Essentially the aim of these posts is to share my observations on the commonalities of karate and music and on being an “artist” versus practising an art.
Anyone who knows me well and many who don’t will know that both music and Karate are a major part of my life. I consider myself to be both a musician and a martial artist. I am not sure where one crosses the line into becoming either of these things or if there is a hard and fast rule. Here are my reflections on that:
Transition from music-nerd to musician.
Apparently, I started singing before I could talk and I remember making up songs before I commenced school. I started seriously studying musical instruments by the time I was in primary school and learning singing (as an instrument) and composition by the time I was in high school. I can’t really remember a time when I couldn’t read music or learn music and lyrics by ear. Although I may have some natural talent and am by no means tone-deaf, I have had to work hard over many years on my music to get where I am….and I am still working on it….there is always room for further improvement.
However, if you were to ask me when I became a musician (not just someone who liked to play, write and sing music), I probably couldn’t pin point it to a day or even a time in my life. I guess in the last few years I have actually felt the part. Before that I was more or less in the “fake it until you make it” zone of acting like a musician so convincingly that other people believe you are one, even if you aren’t convinced yourself.
The difference for me seems to be in the experience of music making. I think one gets to the point where one is part of the music rather than being outside of it when one plays or sings (regardless of whether this is solo or ensemble performance). I think previously, whilst I had the power to transport others, I was still too cognitive about the whole thing to transport myself to the same place.
Metamorphosis from Karate-Geek to Martial artist.
On the flip side: into my life enter martial arts. I started karate as a rather more mature individual, ie just on the right side of 40 years old. I had never done anything like it in my entire life nor had I ever even considered it would be something I would enjoy. I kind of fell in to it….and then fell in love with it, pretty quickly. I was open minded but uncoordinated. I was not good at it at all but I was determined. I was confused but inquisitive. I was highly unskilled but enthusiastic.
Again, I can’t tell you exactly when I became a martial artist as opposed to someone who
geeks out over and practises karate, but over the last few months I feel I have metamorphosed into one. The process for me started in my mind as opposed to physically, quite a while back, when I found my thinking and outlook changed considerably as a result of training in karate. However, I have since about halfway through the year begun to have more and more moments where I have felt physically as well as spiritually “pART of my ART”. By this I mean being at one with the movement in kihon / ido / kata or to being in the moment in kumite. Being able to be cogniscent but not overly cognitive about what I am doing feels to me like where the ART pART stARTs and now, especially when I experience this (a feeling not dissimilar to how I feel when I perform music as noted above), I feel like a martial artist rather than just someone acting like one. (And, OK, I accept that I am still very much a Karate-Geek at the same time…..perhaps this part won’t actually change; time will tell).
Of course there are a lot of more obvious and external similarities between music and karate. I will save these for part 2.