October 20, 2022, TLV Airport, Business lounge, Israel
West 4th street, early 1990s, our dojo, the Oyama Kyokushin dojo, later World Oyama Karate
Freedom to make our own sounds, the streets of New York.
What is freedom?
In the classic dystopian novel "1984" George Orwell says that freedom is the right to say that 2+2=4, and not 5. It is to say what you see and believe to be true, that is freedom. Freedom is to speak your mind freely, not to be afraid that your words will be judged by others. Not to be afraid to speak the truth due to a fear that you will be banned from social media or rejected by your friends. Freedom is to say what you think and believe without fear of being judged or rejected, without fear that your answer may not be the currently, ever changing, politically correct answer. Winston Smith responded to O'Brien that 2 plus 2 equals four even though O'Brien said that if the party says it equals 5, then that is the truth.
Freedom to speak your truth. Freedom is to live with yourself in peace.
I walk the streets, it is late at night, perhaps the day began with a karate lesson, and later on a Kung Fu lesson, and concluded with some informal training in some old building in downtown New York where most fear to go. The truth is what I see on the street, the truth is homeless people, the truth is fear. The truth is alienation and desperation. The truth is danger lurks around every corner. We must be prepared. So, I trained, with anyone, in any style, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian. I trained in dilapidated buildings in Manhattan and basement gyms in Brooklyn.
Freedom is to say I don't trust the system, that the Party is not interested in my welfare, that I don't matter to those in power. Freedom is to choose. In restless dreams I walked alone. Faces come and go, neon lights flashing in the night. What will work if it happens?
Waiting for the subway late at night. Class was good, fighting was good. It was good to see Saiko Shihan. It was good to train with the sempais. Sempai Sakai was in good spirits tonight. It was good to feel the adrenaline. It was good to get hit, the feel alive. We live. This is life. And I stand on the subway and observe the people. The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and in the faces of the tenement residents. People seated, silence, people standing, silence, but thoughts are heard. Their words are written on their faces. This is truth.
and the years pass, we talk again. We talk, to the living, to those gone beyond, keep talking, the conversation will never end. We walk alone, but not alone. and I say be free.
We see the future and we see a decline, in values, in morals. People take it for granted that it is not safe to walk the streets. It was always this way, they believe, it will always be this way. But we hold out hope for mankind, things could be different. We can resist governmental oppression, societal control, the knives that flash in the night on the city streets. Stabbed by the neon lights.
People become complacent, their motto is...it has always been this way, nothing to be done. But this is not true.
I am in the lounge, I ask about the showers. Showers? There have never been showers in the lounge!
But this is not true, there were, but with Coronavirus services were eliminated, and after Corona those cutbacks remain, to increase profits. They will not clean your room in the hotel, they will not serve coffee on many flights unless you ask. It has always been this way, only that is a lie. Big Brother is lying to you. The Party is lying to you.
And I demand change. I will not be complacent.
Can we inspire some change? And I gently complain, and no, it has not always been this way, and yes, you can do better.
You must be free to think beyond what you have been told. You must be free to judge for yourself if this is right.
Last night we try out some new dangerous situations in our Krav Maga class. Questions that came up in Norway and South Africa. And each student tried for themselves.
And in our classes, with our Krav Maga you will be the judge. You will speak your mind. I teach, I explain, and I ask you, the student, does this make sense? Does this work for you? If not, we stop and analyze, take my arms that I might reach you, hear my words that I might teach you. We are here to learn, and you are free to ask, because it is your life on the line. You are not obligated to believe anything that you don't believe to be true. There is no "Party Line" that you must follow. You will follow your own truth. You will be your own person. You were born to be free and speak your mind. Your voice will not be silenced.
We pass though this world for a little while, hopefully we can make a positive difference. But first we must learn to hear the sounds of silence, the sound of those who are afraid to speak.
What is freedom? It is the ability to show your face, speak your voice, openly, freely without fear. Freedom is the ability to question. Freedom is the ability to believe what your own heart and experience tells you.
Training in Wing Chun, New York City, circa...early 1990s
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