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Fundamentalism and consumerism in the world of martial arts and life

In a peaceful village, bordered by an ancient forest and a winding river, lived a respected Tai Chi master, Master Liang. His movements were as fluid as the river's flow and as solid as the old trees in the forest. One day, a young boy, Chen, came to him, eager to learn the ancient art of Tai Chi.
"Master Liang," Chen began timidly, "I want to learn how to fight against the injustices of the world, to defend myself and others."
Master Liang smiled and replied, "To fight injustice, you must first learn to control your own strength. Come, I will teach you."
They went to a garden where Master Liang took a feather and placed it in Chen's palm. “Imagine you are holding a fragile bird,” he said. “If you squeeze too hard, you could hurt or even kill it. On the other hand, if you don’t squeeze hard enough, the bird might escape or fly away. The key is to maintain a gentle firmness, respecting life while exercising the necessary control.”
Chen watched his hand attentively, feeling the light weight of the feather. He understood that true power did not lie in brute force, but in the ability to balance strength and gentleness, control and freedom.

I am sharing this story as an introduction to two powerful forces that not only govern our external world but also our internal world: fundamentalism and consumerism.

True strength does not come from extremism or excessive possession, but from balance and respect for life in all its forms. There is a third way to balance these two forces, a creative and generative path that inspires my website: The Way of the Generative Warrior.

In this article, I will only talk about the two powerful forces that clash in an endless war. For me, falling into one of these extremes only helps to perpetuate this war that takes place in the hearts of human beings and projects into our societies. Trying to abolish one of these forces at the expense of the other only worsens the situation, as they are only the mirror of each other.

The Spectrum of Fundamentalism versus Consumerism

The concept of fundamentalism is a powerful force that manifests when one clenches one's fist too tightly. It is a rigid adherence to beliefs or values, often at the expense of tolerance, dialogue, and mutual understanding. Political, religious, or ideological fundamentalism can lead to conflict, intolerance, and a lack of nuance, as it leaves no room for questioning.

On the other hand, we have consumerism, a force that manifests when one releases one's fist excessively. It is the incessant pursuit of material goods, instant gratification, and ephemeral pleasures. Consumerism can lead to overconsumption, resource waste, and a sense of inner emptiness, as it constantly pushes the pursuit of happiness to a future acquisition.

This Endless War that Divides Even Martial Arts

These two forces, my friends, are not limited to political or economic spheres. They are also present in the world of martial arts.

In martial arts, fundamentalism is manifested by an uncompromising adherence to a single school of thought or style, with little tolerance for other approaches. This can lead to closed-mindedness and conflicts between different schools. “I only transmit the teachings and tradition of the master, as he taught them 75 years ago."

On the other hand, martial consumerism occurs when practitioners jump from one style or martial art to another, constantly seeking novelty without ever deepening their understanding. This can lead to superficiality in practice, where one picks and chooses techniques without ever mastering any of them.

Now, let's talk about Kyokushin, a discipline I have studied closely. This style is marked by its quest for excellence, but it can also be the terrain of these two forces. Some Kyokushin adherents are so locked into their style or own organization that they refuse to consider that others might have something interesting to share. This is a manifestation of martial fundamentalism.

Conversely, some practitioners may jump from one organization to another, seeking immediate pleasure (or a grade) without ever deepening their practice of Kyokushin. This can dilute the purity of this discipline.

The Creative and Generative Approach to Return to the Center

The key, my friends, lies in balance and creative pursuit. In martial arts as in life, it is essential to maintain a balanced fist. This means adhering to our values and our discipline while remaining open to others. It means practicing with dedication and depth rather than constantly seeking novelty.

I encourage you to reflect on these forces in your own life and to seek a balance between fundamentalism and consumerism through a generative pursuit, whether in martial arts or in other aspects of your existence. This is how we can achieve true mastery and wisdom.

Gaëtan Sauvé













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