An extended version of “Be Water my Friend”

pancha bhootaEmpty your mind, be formless, shapeless—like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
Bruce Lee

I am sure many of you have read this and many have seen the interview video where Bruce Lee explains how being like Water, we can be more versatile as a fighter. So, in this post, we will see about other aspects of nature.

The nature consists of Five Elements(the Classical Elements). They are, Bhoomi(Earth), Jal(Water), Agni(Fire), Vayu(Air) and Aakasha(Sky). These five elements can change the way we perceive martial arts. As the Element Water has already been quoted by Bruce Lee, we shall see about the other elements.

Bhoomi or the Earth projects the idea of stability and the core strength of our nature. Higher the stability, better the life on earth. Same way, when we learn to be more stable and have a strong set of core muscles, there is an overall development as a Martial artist. It also projects calmness which is usually present in the nature and volcanic eruptions and earthquake can be considered as the disturbed state of our mind. Achieving mental stability is also important. Many say that anger helps them workout or fight better, but anger makes you less aware but more aggressive. Anger will just make you feel like you are working out harder or fighting better, but it usually does the opposite. As the old belief says “An angry mind is a narrow mind”.

Agni or the Fire teaches us to be the guiding light for a student. It is the responsibility of every Martial Artist to teach what he has learnt over the years. The fire(light) shows us the path in the darkness and that is the exact duty of the Guru or Sensei. He has to be like a beacon that stands tall and guides the ships. But, that’s not all. Fire has another face i.e., it can burn. When in a life threatening situation, he should be able to fight off his opponents as well.

Vayu or the Air is the invisible element of the nature. No one can see it, but its presence can be felt nevertheless. It is one of most important elements for our survival. This element elucidates the importance of Non-Telegraphic attacks. Non-Telegraphic attacks are the ones that don’t telegraph your intention to your opponents. Well, it is easier said than done. It takes years of practice to learn and apply it.

Finally, Aakasha or the sky represents the immense amount of knowledge. You will never complete studying. When I got my Black Belt, I was proud of myself that I had achieved it. But then our Examiner and Chief Instructor explains that Black Belt is just the intermediate level and not he ultimatum. That is when I realized that there is so much to learn. It is just like the sky or the space. It cannot be fathomed by one person in his lifetime. Everyone knows that the space is infinite and every time he tries to reach a boundary, there is always space for more. Same way in martial arts, there is not ultimate end or mastery of the art. there is always space for more

Finally, I would like to type in that these are my views relating to the five elements and there can be contradiction in our opinions.

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About Karthik S Vailaya

Martial Arts enthusiast, Karate Black Belt 2nd Dan, Earnest Reader, Out of the Box Thinker. View all posts by Karthik S Vailaya

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