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  • I. Cem Onur

What is the Favorite Martial Art You Do, and Why?

There are two that top the list:


First and foremost is my Kaizen AikiJutsu - as a cross between AikiDo and Jiu Jitsu it combines the mindsets that I find most close to my heart and thus has been my path since I started on it more than 25 years ago. They are literally: my life, the way I perceive things, the way I walk, talk, interact, engage, observe, dissect, analyze and decide. And that’s what matters the most when you practice a martial art for the right reasons: that it transcends simple practice in a training hall in some times during the week, it becomes your way. That’s my BushiDo.


To me, Aiki means don’t expect anything, be still, be like water - ready to move, ready to assume any shape, ready to roll over any barrier, ready to freeze, ready to vaporize - ready. Still, but ready. Welcome the incoming with open hands, open arms; decide what to do when the moment arises, not before, not after; be there in the moment. Nakaima, here and now… As the moment comes, don’t resist, go with the flow and redirect it the way you see fit. You have all the options right in front of you; just don’t be consumed by them.


To me Jutsu means no jokes, no fakes, no bluffs, no bullshit. Be honest, be truthful with yourself and with the situation - a punch is a punch, if you are not going to punch don’t fake it. A gun is a gun, don’t draw it if you are not going to use it. Follow through and do it with intent. A block won’t work if you don’t follow through with a punch. A punch won’t work if it is not preceded with a distraction. Can’t throw - too heavy; but can pull and shift balance and let it trip itself. A pressure point strike is better than a dozen punches. Be smart about it and don’t joke around. If the fight is going to happen, then fight! There’s no contradiction, there’s only action and reaction. And never lose your sights, don’t enter a battle you cannot win. Control the situation, don’t be controlled by it.


Controlling the situation means you don’t have to fight. Having to fight equals a situation which got out of control; that you didn’t seen it coming and now you have to deal with it. This also plays into the way I see any engagement in my personal life: from traffic to my clients to my friends and family - it’s all the same thing considered differently. An argument that was a miscommunication developing into a friction between two characters can be dealt with using any method you want. But the true victory is seeing it develop before it even gets a chance to blossom and prevent / redirect it. My lifelong goal is to master this and I am nowhere near anywhere that summit.


Second in line is Iaido/Siljun Dobup (Korean Version) again, because of the mentality it begets. In the old days, the way of the long sword would be the last thing you’d learn after you mastered something / anything. By the time you mastered the way of the sword you already know that a fight is lost from the beginning because you have to fight. The art of “drawing and cutting with the sword” is akin to sniping. You must wait for the right moment, you only have one chance to strike and you must strike correctly. Do the right thing at the right time with the right intent in the right way. That’s the essence of IaiDo / Siljun Dobup which is lost on its practitioners - pretty much like most other martial arts being practiced today. The philosophy is gone, everybody is after a YouTube video.


This is the essence of the art of drawing and cutting with the sword: a watermelon! Ichi-go, ichi-e!


i. cem (jim) onur on Instagram: “An #oldie but a #goldie. The #watermelonchallenge of yesteryears. Now that was a good cut. The #watermelon couldn't even flinch; did not…”


The true art is: Don’t fight, don’t quarrel, don’t waste your energy on things that have no positive return. Refrain from unnecessary activities. Train, know your technique, your limits, your reach and when the moment is right, act! Act decisively, in one swift motion without hesitation. Move in, do it, and move out. Do it so well that the watermelon doesn’t even get a chance to flinch, doesn’t even realize that it was cut. Take your slice and be on your way.


Those are my two favorite martial arts - because they define who I am and I defined what they are for me. They are me.


The art of peace begins with you.

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