You Don’t Know Kung Fu

You Don’t Know Kung Fu

Many people in my social circle who don’t train in martial arts will sometimes tell others that, “He knows karate.”

Sometimes you’ll hear children that have started training say they know karate.

And of course, Neo knows kung-fu.

But in reality, I don’t know karate. I don’t even know budo taijutsu.

But I do practice budo taijutsu.

Think about it…

Lawyers don’t know law. They practice law.

Doctors don’t know medicine. They practice medicine.

And martial artists don’t know their martial art. They practice their arts.

This might sound like semantics, but words hold meaning. Precision in speech provides clarity to the reader or listener.

You see, when you know something, it’s done. Finished. There’s nothing more to it. Nothing more to learn.

The dark side of this is a subtle mental trap of thinking you’ve got it all figured out. And there’s less openness to other possibilities.

Not to mention the arrogance that you could know something as deep and rich as budo. That’s like saying you know everything about life itself.

We see this often when people “get high on their own supply.” Then next thing you know…they fail, get defeated, or crushed.

It’s an easier trap to fall into than you might think.

But when you have the mindset of practice, there’s no endpoint. No finish line. And endless possibilities. You can evolve!

You know that you can’t possibly know it all. But you can put in your greatest effort. And I think that makes for a life worth living.

As one of my teachers has said (paraphrased), “I practice knowing I’ll never master budo taijutsu in my lifetime…but maybe in the next.”

So please be wary of thinking you know things that are actually practices. Law, medicine, science, religion, martial arts, and the fine arts just to name a few.

Take the attitude of practice and live a lifetime (or more…) of purpose and meaning!


Michael Tucker is the chief instructor at A.C.T. Defense. He is currently ranked at 9th degree black belt in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu and is a Sentinal International Group Instructor. He has also successfully completed instructor development courses in Tony Blauer’s Personal Defense Readiness/S.P.E.A.R. System Basics and Rob Pincus’ Combat Focus Shooting. He has over 25 years experience in martial arts. He has worked as a Contractor for the US Department of Defense while training soldiers and DOD personnel before deployment to high-threat environments in hand to hand combat, improvised weapons, pistol and carbine shooting, and tactical driving. He as also been contracted to develop personal safety courses for Southern Company, Samford University, The Birmingham YMCA, KlassKIDS Foundation and others. He continually studies how human movement, behavior, psychology, physiology, and training methodology relate to the practice of martial arts and surviving violence.

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