This morning, I got the chance to watch a bio-film about Jean Michel Basquiat. I was already intrigued about his work as artist due to his affiliation with pop artist, Andy Warhol. Being an artist requires integrity. How can we stay true to ourselves when we can’t stay true to our art/craft/aesthetic. Whatever we do as art (in my case, martial arts and fashion) should be treated like a sanctuary. A utopia where negativity becomes positive or creative energy, Lines aren’t always straight, and coloring outside the lines, etc.
Despite his efforts to remain true, he was inevitably exploited from his talents whereas it destroyed himself and the very few people who supported him when he had nothing. As I watched this, I question the battle between fame vs integrity. Is this price of fame we all strive for? Do we confuse success with fame? People constantly dissecting our lives like a scientist performing a genetic experiment? Will my integrity be altered in such circumstances? Some of the most artistic and influential people are often the most loneliest. A high cloud where the layman would not begin to comprehend. The only language that speaks to them is the art, not the artist.
The truth of the matter lies he wanted the drug of fame but unaware of what side effects it could deliver. For example, he was a heavy drug addict. A man’s escape from reality has manifested into a tragic exit. From a series of unprecedented short comings, I became angry of the inability to become a top martial artist competitor, having my fashion label, and styling work. I resented the phrase, “in due time”. However, I reflected from my shortcomings and appreciated it. Experience added fuel to push forward in life. Moderation is key!! Excessive dosage of anything can plunge the individual. This is what I have learned from Basquiat. Seeing how people can treat you and how you treat others (Whether you in the elite or an underdog) is essential. No matter what we experience, must maintain that integrity. I will use his life as a lesson of awareness (minues the drugs; I am drug free). I hope my years of martial arts experience helps reinforces that.
Nowadays, I have not gotten the chance to train with anyone else. I must admit it has been a very frustrated experience balancing work, curate my upcoming label and being with my little family. For example, there is no one available to critique you (determine you what you are doing wrong or what you can improve, declined sense of timing, etc.) it sucks.. some times life sucks as well. On the contrary, it ultimately depends on your interpretation of life. Recently, a testimony begin to marinate in my subconscious mind exploding into the unfathomable appreciation of my current position. One word to describe it, rediscovery.
While training, I had to become realistic based on my techniques. Like fashion, martial arts correlates to the concept of “less is more”. We always reflect back to the basics which has allowed to open the door of our progression. These very same basics are built our journey in learning ourselves. its helps us strength our techniques and evolve into advance technique (i.e. martial arts tricking and locks and traps).
From a sport martial arts aspect, I always felt compelled to always execute multiple kicking. Instead, I micro-analyzed everything from my footwork to my striking (speed and power). This process was treated as if a tailor would curate a couture dress or a bespoken suit. In fashion terms, these items are made to only fit that particular individual. I never realized how great it felt to strictly work on basics techniques on another level. we try to work on things we find to be attractive. Somethings we find attractive isn’t compatible to our built. Perfect what’s made particularly for yourself.
I look at the fighters and form practitioners I admired throughout the years. Often times, I would imitate those moves based of its cosmetic effect to my eye. When I have been frustrated why things have not worked out to my advantage is because I never tried to work out my basics to that extreme higher level until now. Of course, I have improved in training, physically. On other hand, it’s that training for what is fit for you and making it your own. Developing that exploding feeling of a backfist and a solid side kick striking the heavy bag helped me realize it. This is something no one had to tell me. This is something I discovered all on my own. That’s the hidden beauty some of us never tend discover from ourselves. It’s not a martial arts testimony, but a life testimony.