By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, May 25, 2005.

Watching superstar Martial Artists in the movies such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, etc spoils us all. We generally get excited by the athletic moves and techniques that they perform on screen, but these performances do not necessarily make a great Martial Artist. It only creates the illusion of greatness. Everything is choreographed to create dynamic fight and action scenes.

I am not in any way degrading their individual abilities. I am merely pointing out that the greatness of a Martial Artist is not derived from what they do on screen, but what they do on an individual basis in their training and in life. When one is examining the greatness of any Martial Artist, one must look at their ethics, the persistence in accomplishing goals, and the sharing of knowledge and an ability to get others to duplicate their abilities.

Ethics is always a factor in life. It is very rare that individual Martial Artists ever obtain greatness and success without the application of ethics. If they do, it is short-lived. We have heard of people who have achieved greatness, but fumbled it away because they could not manage to align ethics with what they were doing in their lives and the very thing that they were great at doing. There are examples of individuals not necessarily Martial Artists, but athletes and artists: 1) Jean Claude Van Damme - Martial Artist and actor, 2) Michael Jackson - singer, 3) Michael Irvin - NFL football player, 4) Jose Canseco - NLB Baseball player, etc. There are many more, but I believe these examples make the point.

One of the things that establish greatness is the persistence in accomplishing goals. Martial Artists must have a "fire" in their belly when it comes to achievement. When they train to develop their outstanding abilities, they focus like a laser to accomplish them. They do not settle for less than their very best. You do not have to tell these individuals to work hard because it is already part and parcel to their personalities. Perfection is a goal they constantly try to achieve because it is a "sky-high" goal that allows them to continue to grow and perfect their craft. There is not a mountain in sight that could be such a barrier to achieving what they want.

It can be said that knowledge cannot be kept in a bottle or simply stored in an ivory tower not to be shared by others. It is the responsibility of those who hold valuable knowledge to share it. It is very important for Martial Artists to be teachers. It does not mean that all Martial Artists must take up the job of instructor, but it does mean that they should share their knowledge with others, so others can benefit from the things that they know that helped them to achieve their level of greatness.

Greatness is such a fragile thing. But every Martial Artist has it within themselves to accomplish and maintain it. Greatness is cultivated and maintained by ethics, accomplishing goals, and sharing knowledge so others can duplicate abilities. Greatness should not be reserved for one or a privileged few, but should be able to be accomplished by many. It can be and has been accomplished by many, and it is one of the things that make a beautiful society and civilization.