Do you want to be an eagle or a crow?

Common sense and admiration are fantasies.

We look at the eagle, the hawk, and the falcon and think of the power, beauty and above all deadly efficiency of the raptors. Why would you want to be the common, when you can be the exceptional?

Who wins a fight, Crow or Eagle?

The eagle has talons, and that wicked hooked beak. It’s bigger than a crow. We name fighter jets after eagles and falcons because we recognize the true warrior power of these creatures. If you want to inspire with your martial arts school, you would have no problem using a raptor as your logo.

A crow is a small bird. Sure, it’s smart, but it’s got tiny claws and a beak better suited for opening mcdonalds waste packaging than hurting anything. They are drearily common, and mostly derided as a filthy pest.

When I was learning to fly raptors, one of the lessons we learned was that raptors won’t fly if they see crows.

The crows win the fight, every time. Single or in groups, they always win. Raptors are focused killers, and that focus, that specialization, leaves them completely vulnerable to the generalist crow. The crow is an excellent and agile flyer, and completely outclasses all the raptors that I know of.

So why do martial artists worship the eagle and hawk, and not the crow?

I don’t abide racism, sexism, homophobia or any other such stupidity in my school. It’s not for any altruistic reason, it’s because the most important lesson in martial arts is to not worship the eagle.

The difference between martial arts and sport is eagle worship. Sports is about being the best, being a sports fan is about admiring the best. Martial arts is about survival. You want to survive the little tricks life can play on you, especially in the world of combat, you have to learn to see the truth.

When you have a habit of sticking a label on someone, you have a habit of seeing people through that label. You make yourself blind.

Had a student last night talk about how she’d reached a point in her fighting where she was frustrated at not being able to do the things she thought she should be able to do in sparring. She’d been in a slump for a while. Last night I noted that she seemed to have broken through it. What she said was that she’d given up trying to do things. She’d given up on trying to get better, and had just thrown out all her training and bag of tricks.

Instead of doing what she thought she should do, she resigned herself to being incapable and resolved to just watch her opponents and spend a while just absorbing what was going on. She said she felt like she was moving through molasses, moving steps behind herself almost. But she was consistently landing good shots and outmaneouvering all of her opponents.

She didn’t intend to even really fight, but by observing, she saw moments where it made sense to just reach out and touch someone with her sword. With her vision stripped of the overlay of her normal patterns, there was so much more to see.

First flight of the crow.

You build habits of labeling things. You get angry at the “PC police” and think it’s stupid that you can’t tell the kind of jokes you want, when you don’t really mean any harm. You are so caught up in labelling and trying to organize the things in the world, that you no longer see what is actually there. You build a virtual reality of your own imagining.

It confounds me that any martial artist would let themselves do that, but then I remember that they think, in their secret hearts, that they are eagles.

And they think that is a good thing.