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-=The Great Divide In Martial Arts Training= 
  
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-It never fails. It’s happened to me, and I’ve seen it happen to countless others. There was nothing any of us could do about it. 
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-At some point in your martial arts training, perhaps near the beginning or maybe years down the road, you’ll come to a very large and very intimidating split in the road. Up to this point the Path has been pretty much straightforward, and you’ve followed the suggested training regimen with gusto. You’ve grown as a martial artist, as a person, as a Scholar-Warrior, but nothing in your training prepared you for this new obstacle…. 
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-Welcome to The Great Divide. 
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-==The Great Divide== 
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-The split in the Path you’re now contemplating has a name – The Great Divide. It is a crucial junction that will determine all of your subsequent training efforts. If you follow the Path on the one side, you’ll change your training to reflect your new destination, drop several studies immediately and gain an armload-full of new goals instantly. 
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-The same thing will happen if you choose the Path on the other side. 
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-The Great Divide can also be called the '''Teacher / Practitioner Path''' or '''Teacher / Student Path'''. Simply put, when you encounter this splitting of the Path you must make an important decision: will you continue to develop your mind, body and spirit to the fullest extent possible; or, will you forgo the highest peaks of development in order to teach others the Way? 
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-And I’m sorry, but no, you can’t have it both ways. You have to decide. Maybe not this very moment, but soon. 
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-At this point, I’m usually asked if you can make a decision now and change it later. Of course you can. You’re free to do whatever you want. Just realize that you’ll have spent a lot of time training for one set of goals, only to drop that training and set off on an entirely different round of development. You’ll have lost time, motivation and possibly some small degree of heart. It’s questionable if you could ever make up for such lost ground, but the legends continue to tell us of some highly-developed Scholar Warriors who have done just that, so perhaps it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. 
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-==What Does This Choice Involve?== 
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-In order to make the best possible decision for yourself you need to be fully informed as to the nature of the two Paths, so here we go. 
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-On one hand – the '''Teaching Path''' – you will have decided that you are most inclined, whether by personality, ability or just blind Fate, that you are meant to be a Teacher of the ways of the Scholar-Warrior. When you are questioned by “outsiders” as to the nature of your training (such questions usually instigated by your…um…”bragging” about them at some social occasion) you can hold forth for hours on the subject, usually while performing a vigorous physical demonstration of your abilities. You are a “people” person who feels that there is no greater calling than the passing-on of Scholar-Warrior wisdom to your fellow travelers. You enjoy coming up with new ways of teaching and are constantly placing the welfare and advancement of your students above your own. 
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-The other Path – the '''Practitioner Path''' – is one of highly-personalized focus. You are training to develop yourself, not someone else. You spend your time following this Path by training for ever-longer time periods; you delve into your mind deeper than any psychologist could ever hope to; you keep your eyes on the ultimate goal of personal perfection. You may have been labeled a “loner” many times before in your life (or perhaps not); you find no particular joy in teaching others, rather finding immense satisfaction in self-development; in the great Yin/Yang divide of “Service to Self” and “Service to Others”, you fall firmly yet comfortably into the “Self” camp. You feel that you barely have enough time to train yourself, let alone others. 
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-Both Paths are equally valid. Both will take you where you’re going. Neither will leave you hanging by ending suddenly at the edge of a thousand-foot cliff. But as I mentioned earlier, although they are not mutually exclusive they are close enough to being so that you need to “specialize” in order to gain the fullest benefits of your training from this point onward. 
-How do you decide which Path to take? 
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-==Making The Choice== 
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-So now it comes down to this: will you be a Teacher or a Student? A Trainer or a Practitioner? How do you know which one to choose? 
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-One thing you can do is to take a few moments and look back on your life up to this point. Do you prefer the company of friends and family to a more solitary existence? Do you enjoy going out to the movies, the flea market, the amusement park? Do you like and perhaps need the company of others? Do you get a vicarious thrill when you teach someone a new skill? Have others often commented that you should be a teacher? Then possibly the choice for you is the Teaching Path. 
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-But if in your meditative wool-gathering you realize that you’ve always been the type to enjoy solitary adventures; that you feel complete mainly when you’re on your own; that you could probably do without the company of society for at least a little while; if your past reveals a strong trend of inwardly-directed self-fulfillment rather than the sharing of your knowledge, then the Practitioner Path may be your Way. 
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-Once again, let me emphasize that neither Path is “superior” to the other – merely different. Following one over the other does not have any stigma attached to it. We are what we are, and if we realize this fact and capitalize upon it, it will lead us to success in our studies. 
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-==After the Choice is Made== 
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-You’ve made your choice, albeit with some small amount of nervousness and trepidation. You’re committed. You have a new direction. You’re strolling down a Path with new horizons, a Path with new scenery to see and new goals to accomplish. Whether you chose Door #1 or Door #2, you take the attitude of the Scholar Warrior – you buckle down, grit your teeth and follow your destiny. 
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-Or, you sit in the middle of the Path and cry like a baby.  
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-It doesn’t matter. You’re on a new course, you’ve got new things to do, new ideas to think about and new techniques to try out. 
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-Earlier in this article I mentioned how some of the legendary Scholar Warriors had seemingly changed their Paths midstream, often quite successfully. Usually this took the form of a progression from Teacher to Practitioner Paths – never in the opposite direction. Why not? 
-Perhaps if we look at this as an application of Yin/Yang theory we can get a handle on the truth of the matter. If a Teacher decides to suddenly become a Practitioner, they are essentially going from the Outside (Yang) to the Inside (Yin). This is the same direction that we are already following in our Scholar-Warrior studies – we begin with the physical body (the “Outside”) and progress in our training to the more spiritual aspects (the “Inside”). We’re comfortable with the directional change since we’ve really been following that direction all along. We realize that we’ve “done our bit for Queen and Country” – we’ve trained some students who are themselves now quite well along the Path. We’re following such legendary examples as Lao Tzu, who is said to have quit his government job and gone off to a solitary existence. 
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-The opposite directional change – from Practitioner to Teacher (Yin to Yang) – is not unheard of, nor is it really all that impossible, at least theoretically. But it IS very difficult. It would be as if we were training our Spirit first, then our Mental abilities, then finally our Physical bodies. Not a very efficient way of training, to be sure. You would need to experience a fundamental change in personal attitude and character, something that is rarely accomplished in this type of endeavor. True, the Teacher-to-Practitioner change also involves changes, but they seem to be of a more natural pattern. Put another way…when you go from the Outside to the Inside, you merely need to discard certain techniques and attitudes designed for the teaching of the masses, and with just a bit of fine-tuning you’ll have achieved your goal. If you go from the Inside to the Outside, in addition to dropping techniques and attitudes you’ll find it necessary to create a whole new set of them to deal with your new students. 
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-When I discuss this topic with my students they’ll often ask what MY Path is. Of course, they realize I’m a Teacher, but they’ll be wondering if I have any Practitioner left in me. In answering them I usually concede that although I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years now, I BEGAN as a Practitioner for ten years. As I was learning my art I had no desire to teach, so I never envisioned any Path other than that of Practitioner. Of course, I was quite young at the time, with all of the self-directed goals that youth involves. Stranger still, perhaps, is that I can see a possible future where I return to the Practitioner’s Path. This hat-trick of Practitioner-Teacher-Practitioner is my personal Way – I’m not claiming any superior benefits from it. It’s simply how I am, and in following it wherever it may lead I’m conforming with my own Nature and with that of the Tao. 
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-I sincerely hope that your Path proves just as natural and rewarding. 
  
 [[Category:Martial Arts]] | [[Category:Martial Arts Philosophy]] [[Category:Martial Arts]] | [[Category:Martial Arts Philosophy]]

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