By Jason Smith
For those whom have read some of my notes, you’ll be well aware that I have spent the past few years going in and out of hospital being treated for intracranial hypertension.
These visits have afforded me an invaluable experience as a martial artist to reflect upon.
Currently sitting in a hospital bed in the ICU (intensive care unit) at St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney Australia, following some investigative surgery.
I’m blessed with a young face, so when Doctors and nurses see how old I am they often ask what do I do for a living – what’s my secret. And as always I respond with “I’m a teacher of martial arts”.
In previous times this was met with wanting to know more like, what style, I have a friend, I used to do, or I do…
But not now, not here. I just receive a smile and a change of subject or a role of the eyes.
Finally I had a good conversation with one of the friendly ICU nursing staff. She then informed me that the young Daniel Christie who was “King Hit” died just 3 beds away from where I lay only weeks ago, and how constant horrors of street violence have been becoming a more and more frequent issue that they are having to deal with. And we aren’t just talking about emergency medical services, it’s all the additional family support and assistance, as well as ongoing police investigation.
Being a martial artist raises eyebrows in the public eye due it’s current media image and success of the UFC. The knock non effect is the increase of ego fuelled MMA wannabes.
Sometime later I’m struck by the bizarre truth that my situation was backwards.
The arts and now industry once known as martial arts has lost its crown. The true purpose of martial practice is to develop the self, the purpose in teaching martial arts is empower others with the skills of self growth. In short – To serve. And yet these values seem to be lost, or at east very distant from the current perception of what it is to be a martial artist. And yet here I am, an agent of service being served by angels.
As I ponder over this concept, I’m being cared for by nurses and supporting staff of the ICU at the hospital.
These beautiful angels not only calmly deal with their patients physical needs, but also there emotional cries. I know they get paid but much like a soldier I’m not sure if we can really put a price on what they do.
I’m released from the ICU onto the wards and meet a new batch of nurses one more lovely than the next, and yet still having to face all manner of horrors presented to them as everyday part of their job description. What more, it’s all dealt with in great humour, care and tenderness.
During my stay on the ward I witnessed nurses getting scratched and bitten, having their uniforms ripped from their bodies and even a broken nose, all in the process of service. In addition to the physical harm the emotional impact cannot be easy to deal with on a daily bases and I watch many nurses take 5 with the aim to recover their composure and centre before resuming their 12 hour shift.
As a martial artist I found the virtues of these people outstanding and it inspired me to help those around me despite my own situation. In an environment where many are dealing with the ups and downs of the harsh reality that life has dealt them, service is an honour, and yet she can be a cruel mistress as in the act of service we too can be victimised by those we are trying to help. However there was one nurse that put this into a beautiful perspective for me.
This angel in White and blue stepped into my room with a broken nose caused by and angry outburst from a patient with alzheimer’s. When I reached out to console her she caringly said ” it’s not him, it’s his illness”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a beautiful statement said under such pressure from an individual not trained for combat, but to care. And at this point the reality of true martial virtue hit me like a “KING HIT”.
The startling reality that the current state of the martial arts industry is portraying and producing a generation of ego driven, power hungry grunts, and yet these demure angels show more martial virtue that 99% of the self proclaimed warriors I know.
Having watch on numerous occasions the mental battle that many mentally and spiritually immature martial artists endure with life’s real battles, these nurses clearly stand out as true warriors. Walking the mental and often physical minefield of service with pure grace and beauty, they have left me with an hearty mission to aspire too, and I thank them – Jung Shin.