Sunday, May 2, 2010

Martial Arts Hall of Fame

The concept of a Hall of Fame elicits thoughts of long term excellence, contribution, and / or record setting performances of a sport, function, or craft.  You wouldn't think that installing someone into a Hall could, would, or should occur because of a single accomplishment.  No; accolades of this type must be reserved for the truly special.

Sometimes when considering a person for induction into a prestigious honorarium, we may need to focus on a particular element of their performance, possibly overlooking other less notable characteristics.  For example, a batter in baseball may receive the league's highest lifelong honor for their hitting performance when their fielding capabilities are just average.

It probably goes without saying that some members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did not always exhibit personal behaviors you would want your child to emulate.  Given the skill, persistence, focus, luck, dedication, and opportunity required to consistently deliver over-par - time and time again, it should come as no surprise that society cuts some slack when selecting and honoring Hall of Fame designates.

I would suggest that a Martial Arts Hall of Fame needs to be different in this regard.  Certainly members of the Hall should be above average fighters, but they should also be accomplished in forms (Kata, Hyung, Patterns).  Their skill with and against weapons should be at least noteworthy. 

But unlike any other venue, a martial artist selected for a Hall of Fame should be a superb human being - a model of humility (the real kind, not just when the Grand Master is looking).  A person considered for such recognition should be known for their encouragement of others, their patience, their internal and external persona.  A Hall of Fame Martial Artist should invoke "I want my child to be like them" sentiments from those who bear witness to their capabilities, their compassion, and their character.

Might this criteria limit the number of members in our Hall?  Yep - you bet.  If it came to be that the martial arts world would have to endure years of stagnation; no new inductees, why that would not bother me one single bit.  Conversely, if it ever occurred that we added a less-than-qualified artist to the Hall, it would lessen the specialness of everyone else selected before and after.

In 1997, my Instructor, Master Joseph Bruno received this special award and he absolutely earned every bit of it.  I'd like to think that all of the other honorees are equally deserving because it would mean that the collection of superb human beings on this planet is growing.  What a terrific thought.

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