I believe peace is full of contradictions and that it is best to embrace its complexity. For me martial arts have always been a tool of peace. In the academic discourse of peace, conflicts are not seen as something problematic but as natural. It is the way we engage with conflicts that can lead to a negative outcome. Naturally, it is best to aim for a positive outcome of conflicts. However, sometimes this can be challenging since it might include the necessity to critically reflect on oneself. Learning martial arts first of all taught me the art of fighting with myself. When I was a student in Surabaya I had the opportunity to train with Ubaya’s Pencak Silat team, as I shared their values of nonviolence while engaging in physical combat. The aim was to learn the art of control- not so much to control others but to control the actions of oneself. During my time in Indonesia I was amazed how accurately some mastered this art.
Indonesia has so much to offer if it comes to martial arts. I am still looking forward to joining classes of Ibu Ike Suwanda in Bandung. She trains Pencak Silat Mande Munda that originates from Cimande, Cikalong, Serak, Sabandar and is by coincidence giving a workshop right now in my previous hometown Maastricht, the Netherlands. This is where I got in contact with Wushu for the first time. When I think of other Wushu experiences I also have a part of me who is a bit hesitant to join more martial arts classes in Indonesia. While I was in Surabaya I once took the possibility to participate in a Wushu class. And I found myself with a class of small kids when I arrived. I trained with these children for three hours and I remember my inner embarrassment all too well when I had to quit after half a class because their level was far too high for me. One has to know one’s own limits. Mine were way smaller than those of these children…
Anyway, these are all good memories that come in my mind making me proud that last Sunday Indonesia won three gold medals in Wushu at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Singapore 2015. Congratulations to the Wushu athletes and to Indonesia.
Now I am more than curious to hear what you think. Do you see martial arts and peace related? If so in what way?