is Only One You
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Ground zero for all who
enter Gun Fu is familiarization with your essential
During his years of
teaching, Master Archibeque stressed the inherent worth
of individuality. This applied to students as
individuals, and also as members of the group. He
forever intoned his favorite mantra "There is only one
you, you’re special!" By this, he meant you were
important for who and what you are, and need not feel
lacking or deficient in any way. He knew in our society
with the universe of social norms and pressures, lies
the ubiquitous drive to compare yourself to others.
Along with that drive is the implied conclusion that all
too frequently you come up short.
Gun Fu starts, not from
outside, not from the teachings of Master Archibeque, or
his Black Belts, but rather from a seed within you.
Imbedded within that seed, your essential nature exists
in its full potential. Archie understood the
significance of each person’s essential nature and
emphasized you must always know what that nature is, in
order to be true to it. This meant even to the point of
building your martial art around that essential nature,
rather than copying others, or abandoning yourself and
drifting into the unknown.
We have stated elsewhere
(in the Gun Fu philosophy section) that Gun Fu requires
a solid moral foundation, and complete commitment to the
highest principles. Though a Christian of fundamental
persuasion, Archie’s perspective was strongly influenced
by Oriental philosophies. This was also the case with
myself, having spent a lifetime exploring Oriental
philosophies and arts.
In this, we were kindred
spirits, understanding reality to consist essentially of
the self, and its broad relationship to the world about
us, including other entities, goings on, and the
material of existence. Archie understood the
significance of still another sphere, the weight of
collective thought interwoven with the thread of time
which effectively influences everything we do, sinking
our essential natures into so dark a recess, that
nothing short of a miracle (or a sudden burst of
enlightenment) allows one’s rediscovery of self in the
short span of a single lifetime.
This bombardment of
thought represents the culmination of human existence
and reaction to experience. It flows about us,
saturating our spirits no differently than if it were a
phantom genetic pool, driving our perceptions (and
associated conclusions) regarding all we encounter.
In recent years, this was
profoundly articulated by Joseph Campbell, particularly
in his video series with Bill Moyers. Campbell
recognized the importance of the mythological threads in
our everyday lives, so much so he concluded we were
driven by those threads, and when positively cast, took
sustenance in their messages. More specifically, he felt
mythology preserved what constituted the symbolic core
of our essential and collective humanity...a core that
has withstood the test of time, and which kept live the
potential to restore us to our true human nature.
It may be fact that
mythology is the antidote to our collective pathology,
functioning as a counterweight and perhaps antidote to
the onslaught of assertive thought, grafted to time,
permeating our existence.
Not unlike Campbell,
Archie understood that within each person, during the
flow of his or her lifetime, a potential hero stood to
philosophers have articulated parallel themes. From the
lessons of Zen, to Krishnamurti (as in both J. and UG),
all emphasize the common theme that beneath (Should we
say outside?) the thoughts and insecurity of greed and
fear is the capacity to directly experience reality.
This “natural state" is within the life potential
experience of each person.
Frankly, neither Master
Archibeque nor his instructors were encouraging anyone
to become philosophers, or monks. Chuck Norris, a devout
Christian, was once interviewed on the influence of Zen
in his life. He responded that Zen was a significant
factor in his life, one which affirmed and formed part
of his essential nature, and remained with him in
everything that he did, particularly, in his
So, for Archibeque, it
reduced to this. There is only one you, you're the best
at who you are, you are complete as you are! Don't sell
yourself short! Bring who you are out to the world where
it can shine! That’s your starting point, your raw
material as you enter a personal study of Gun Fu.
Granted, there are
differences from one person to the next. One person is
strong, another not so strong; one person is fast,
another slow; one is intelligent, another, flat. Some
are perceived as beautiful, others as plain; some with
talent, others not.
I remember in a
conversation with my late friend, Fred. At that stage in
his life, Fred had been Chief Executive Officer and
President of a major credit union, one which which he
had nurtured from its infancy, to the point where it was
a major player on the scene. We were at a picnic,
throwing horseshoes. Fred had heard I played guitar, and
in an uncharacteristic, but very enthusiastic encounter,
exclaimed he had always wanted to be a musician. I
responded that his life direction apparently turned out
quite differently, and questioned how he chose the world
of finance and credit unions. Fred responded simply, “I
didn't have the talent." I looked over to Fred, and
wasn’t sure I had a clear read on his meaning. I sensed,
momentarily, a shadow of disappointment that he had not
followed his dream. I was somewhat saddened by his
inference that his life, which had been eminently
successful, was somehow the flip side of an absence of
He had a dream, a
youthful aspiration to music, which was quite different
than what blossomed as a tremendous talent in an area
which, though not as glamorous, proved to benefit
thousands of others. All flowed from his personal stamp
of integrity and leadership which brought success to the
credit union over a span of decades. I turned to Fred
and responded, “You were true to your nature. Not many
musicians could have done what you did for the members
of this credit union Fred."
Again, there is only one
you. You are the best you that can be. Anyone else
trying to be you will fall far short from you who
already are. You fill a singular spot in the cosmos.
Within the context of creation, you're no more or less
important than the President, the Pope, or Bill Gates.
Despite the fact you are eternally bombarded with
messages from your family, friends, media, and even from
within your own self that you are deficit, that you need
to change, that you need to improve, that others have
something you don't, but should, or that you deserve
more, that you should in some way be good to yourself
(as in buying some ridiculously expensive toy), you must
understand, at the end of the day, there is only you,
and your acceptance and nurturing of who you are.
Even more importantly,
Archie understood that each person had certain
inclinations. These often acted as veneers, nearly
insurmountable, blocking efforts to arrive at awareness
of self. For example, when you go into a bookstore, what
you normally find is a collection of worthwhile or
interesting books which reinforce or reaffirm what
already exists within yourself. Something about the
title or the cover art reinforces who you think you are
and attracts you to the book (mostly because you already
agree with what you expect to find within). In effect,
you're looking for readings that reward your beliefs,
and validate a projection of who you believe you are.
All of this is a detour,
which unfortunately saddles atop your essential nature.
We are always disinclined to see to the core of who and
what we are. If we have great speed, our martial art
will be one of speed. If we have great power, our
martial art will manifest power. Those with limberness,
will spend their time being limber, and manifesting that
limberness. If we have endurance, there will be great
satisfaction in wearing all of our friends and
associates out. But often, we fail to ask “What else is
In encouraging you to be
who you are, Archie discouraged the inclination to favor
a single major talent. Who you are is much larger and
multi dimensional than you might at first expect. He
insisted you look beyond the surface, dive deep, find
the true you, and confront the entirety. This is the
battle you are training for in your study of Gun Fu. He
taught there existed a constellation of talents within
each person. Over reliance on the singular talent
stymied the potential for maximum growth over time. He
held himself and his instructors accountable for a
three-dimensional perspective on each student, requiring
his teachers not to produce clones, but rather
autonomous human beings.
There was the instance
when I once expressed concerns to Archie regarding a
brown belt student I thought was never going to make
Black belt. That was because he simply could not learn
the required kata. Archie looked to me, and responded
that I was failing the student. He reprimanded that just
because I could do kata, and because I had the capacity
to remember multitudes of forms, did not mean that every
student I taught could do the same. To require what was
impossible to a student, without considering alternative
potential of equivalent merit, was a failure of my Gun
Fu. I was judging the student by my strengths, and not
recognizing he had talent of his own, which was at least
as worthy as my talent, but I had not yet allowed myself
to perceive. Archie felt my failure was a failure to
allow myself to be fully aware, and attuned to my own
essential nature. What stood before me, in the form of
struggling student, was someone who possessed inherent
value in different locales than I had chosen to visit or
appreciate. In short, he was not me, and I was failing
to see who he was.
This was the lesson
which resulted in Ironcrane tailoring its art to each
respective student, and the student’s individual
talents. For Archie, Gun Fu was about revealing yourself
to you. Many students emulate teachers. Only a few are
careful in developing a personal philosophy which
selects from the world in an intelligent and pragmatic
fashion. It is not about building temples. The Gun Fu
Black Belt, for that reason, is something special to
behold. That’s because it’s shading is different on each
person who wears it.
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You would do well to
remember in the course of your training always strive
1. Deconstruct your
nature down to its very core; then nurture that seed!
2. Never allow yourself
to ever be driven by fear, greed, religion, patriotism,
or any other appeal to insecurity. The words of UG
Krishnamurti ring true, “The only freedom is freedom
3. Work to flow through
life like water, with mind that is like an empty mirror
where no dust can alight. Remember that Gun Fu (or any
art for that matter) becomes who you are, not the other
4. Understand that what
starts out as martial art becomes how you live. Once
struggle is eliminated, and there is no fear, or greed,
you re-affirm control of your own destiny. You will have
clear awareness of the course to take in deciding
whether to experience life in fullness and with
confidence, or pain and insecurity. Ultimately, this is
your only choice. The sooner you make it, the better..
Again, at the end of the
day, there is only you, one you. Go to that person,
he/she calls you, you can't refuse. When you get there,
you’ll see there was really nothing to lose.