I think one of my most memorable role models ever was Mr. Miyagi
. Here was a guy who went about his life, doing what he did day in and day out, regardless of anything that happened. Daniel-san gets in some trouble; a few choice words here, some magic healing water
there, and life goes on for Miyagi. It was neither disinterest nor anal-retention on the part of my hero. It was more like a simple wisdom; one which has to be respected before it can be appreciated. The dude had dignity
, and more important than that, he acted on humility
And so it is only natural that years later, after developing a real interest in actually practicing martial arts (rather than just watching them in the movies), that I look for similar characteristics in those who would teach. The first I heard of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi was from an odd read called Path Notes of an American Ninja Master. The author, Dr. Morris (a strange writer and apparently legit martial artist) makes numerous references to Hatsumi throughout his book. Fitting, being that Hatsumi is the grandmaster of the school on which the author is commenting. Morris paints a portrait of the grandmaster to look very much like that of my favorite role model. Kind, friendly, and very light spirited (not to mention he teaches gaijin). Hatsumi is much respected for his knowledge, skills, and great teaching abilities. It also helps to consider that respect is something you have to give to receive.
Between Morris' book and other sources (including the Internet), Hatsumi does seem to be a real life Miyagi (the uber-Miyagi even). But there seems to be a lot of hoopla about the man; too much for my taste, especially on the Internet. And while I try neither to discard his credence because of such frenzy nor to embrace the craze, he gets in my head quite often.
I suppose this is the mark of someone you truly respect. When you stop and consider what another person would tell you or do in your situation, what you know about them must make you value their opinion, at least a little. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, it all depends. If you cannot make your own decisions about life, it is probably a bad thing. On the other hand, such considerations can be a valuable personal reflection.
Recently, I have felt very strongly that I should get back into martial arts practice, and with the end of the semester just around the corner, I was looking foreword to doing so. But I am very impatient. Recently I had a conversation with Hatsumi in my head (good role modeling), that went something like this:
Me: Blah, Blah, Blah. Thinking about martial arts...
Hatsumi: The best thing you can do now is continue with the taiji that you have been doing.
Me: [Don't want to; want real fun!] Yes, but it really seems to be missing something--
H: Hai, practice!
At this point I burst out laughing in the real world, because I knew this to be true all along. But only now did it make enough sense. Sometimes we do not pay attention to the most obvious (and important) things, and without personal reflection we fail to ever see them.