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The "Heiwa" school

"Heiwa" - school of martial arts and self-defense where I started to learn martial arts as something more than just the ability to kick to an opponent's head. "Heiwa" (Japanese) can be translated as "peace" and "harmony". The device of the school was "Learn to live, not to fight". According to this principle, in the "Heiwa" school, teaching of martial arts was more directed towards the "art", rather than to the "martial" aspect of martial arts. We learned not just techniques of hand-to-hand combat, but also the understanding of what in Japanese is called "Do" - "The Way". It doesn't mean that their way of teaching the martial arts wasn't effective, but it wasn't the main focus - as my teacher said: "One, who learns only fighting techniques, of course will be very effective in a fight - but what will such a person do in times of peace ?" In the "Heiwa" school we learned to live harmoniously in general and the martial arts as an aspect of life. The education included not only hand-to-hand combat and weapon trainings, but also development of creative thinking, psychology, oriental philosophy, basics of medicine etc.

Lessons of philosophy and psychology included some techniques of psychological self-defense (e.g.: if you flame when somebody tries to hurt you, it means that you probably don't know anything about the psychological self-defense) and also, according to the school's principle, different topics about life in general - nothing about the "life meaning" or life targets, but something about the process of life, in connection to the martial arts or other subjects (however, all these subjects were mixed, as they are mixed in everyday life). You can find some more about these lessons in my articles and I'm planning on dedicating one of the chapters of my book to these subjects.

Teaching of self-defense was based on the "surviving" principle - meaning not only your physical survival, but also your psychological survival and even broader, the survival of your loved ones, and even the survival of your opponent. According to this principle you can define optimal behaviour in this or that situation. For example, if assaulter stronger than you (or probably stronger) attacks you and demands your money, it would probably not wise to fight him. Your chances to "survive" will grow if you will give him your money or run away or give him your money and then run away. Of course, this is a kick in the balls of macho-behaviour, but as Ekklesiasts say: a living dog is better than a dead lion. In certain situations, when you have no choice but to fight, you can still apply the "surviving" principle. You don't need to fight "fair", you only need to act effectively, meaning: use any technique, weapon or environmental tool which will stop your opponent from attacking you. In addition to the "surviving" principle, we also use the "quality of surviving" principle. For example, if you lethaly stab an attacker who demands your money, you will probably spend you next 5 to 10 years behind bars - in this case, you "survived" the battle, but you lost the war... Your "quality of surviving" will be less then in case you had given your money to the attacker without any resistance and had ran away without looking back. An additional principle, which may help you to keep high a quality of life is the principle of conformity - conformity of your behaviour to current situations, conformity of your technique to techniques of your opponent etc. For example, striking someone to the head with a rock is not an adequate answer to someone who just stepped on your foot, or a karate block age-uke is not so adequate when struck with a baseball bat.

According to my school's device, all mentioned principles (and many other) may be applied not only in a fight, but also in any another life situation. All these principles were taught for life in general, and then it's application demonstrated for fighting. During the last six years I never used hand-to-hand combat techniques, learned in the "Heiwa" school, but the school's principles helped me many times in everyday life. I'm still far away from being a master in martial arts, but I do understand my teacher's favourite proverb: "A true master of martial arts is a master of life".

Copyright © Alex Levitas, all rights reserved

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