I get the feeling that sometimes, people around me really have no clue about what I do. People like my relatives, friends, colleagues, who makes up of my immediate social circle. What I mean was not about the explaining to them what aikido is about. I mean to say is that these folks know for years that I ‘do aikido’, but why i keep going back, doing something that seemingly doesn’t seem to have any material or financial benefit, practicing something that looks so violent and useless? Can they understand why I do it?
I get this feeling recently that perhaps my in-laws may not have an approving eye for my capacity as an aikidoka, or for that matter their son-in-law. I have to admit, I am no go-getter (at least not yet), I’m not academically inclined, neither am I financially free (not yet too), being a martial artist simply doesn’t make me richer, smarter or more handsome. In Singapore, a lot of social prejudices and judgment lies on the university you go to, the kinda job you have, and damned it if I don’t have a car, or a nicely renovated house because, these are the ‘Key Performance Indexes’ I get judged upon, not the style of martial arts i take nor the reputation of the martial arts school i go to.
It is being misunderstood, not so much of being very bothered by it. I felt it, which is why I blog it. It’s really hard because Aikido or Martial Arts, our existence is against the grain of society. there is no reward, it’s just a holistic outcome, being able to bring my physical, mental and spiritual faculties to a higher level. this level of experience, is not a reward, nor gratification, and is not readily or easily available to the mass, only few will know, which is why being a martial artist is so mis-represented by public. The ‘reward’ we get is often so intangible and fleeting, it sometimes can baffle even martial artists, so how can we ever succinctly explain anything about martial arts coherently to our loved ones? Yeah some martial artists gets rich, and famous, how many? Well, at least not in this part of the world. To make things all the more ‘interesting’ there is no ‘career path’ for a martial artist. The ‘dan’ grade is no measure of ‘success’, it’s simply a level of proficiency.
And these stereotypes isolate martial artist from mainstream society. Well, the paradox is, as a martial artist myself, I can’t say that it is totally society’s fault to misunderstand me. I kind of like it that way. I was never a conformist to begin with, never wanting to please anyone superficially. I’m not really keen to contribute or give back to society. Call it selfish, it’s just my way of getting out of society’s way. and get society out of my way too. I used to be antsy about it, but nowadays, these stereotypes and discrimination I get only makes me wonder with interest and curiosity.