“I gotcha back, but you best to watch your front ‘cause it’s the people that front, they be pulling stunts.”
—Gary E. Grice, aka GZA
Proximity does not imply connection. Just because someone stands next to us does not mean that they share our moral, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs, and it certainly does not mean that they want or will do what is best for us or our tribe. In fact, the best place for our enemies to hide is right next to us, protected by the shadows that are created by the light we are trying to put into the world.
It is when we are at our most sensitive, at our most open-hearted, and our most raw with emotion that we are also the most porous and susceptible to negative influence. When we feel the most deeply about some issue, event, or cause, we are also at our most vulnerable to psychological, emotional, and spiritual hijacking. When our hearts and minds are flooded with emotion, we often lose the ability to filter the good from the bad and are temporarily blinded to the truth around us.
It is in moments like these, when we are at our happiest, our saddest, our angriest, or our most hurt, that we are in most desperate need our family and trusted friends by our side. We need them not only to share in our joy, our sorrow, our rage, or our pain, but also to act as a buffer between our open hearts and the malignant forces that want to creep into them. It only takes a little bit of evil to corrupt, distort, and manipulate the truth and the light, and the hope they bring.
While we need those we love, respect, and trust to watch our backs for us, we must also watch our fronts, being careful to maintain our focus and our bearing as we move forward because a lie looks and sounds a lot like the truth when it is masked by passion.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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