Journal of Asian Martial Arts ē Volume 10 Number 4 ē 2001  By Jennifer Martin, B.A.

I am not the better style.

I will not teach you to kick faster

or punch harder

or catch bullets in your teeth.

Three-foot children will not go home with six-foot trophies.

I did not learn the art of war

with warriors who perch camouflaged in the grass.

I did not learn the art of war

with warriors who perch inebriated at the bar

and talk about the war.

I am not a two-year contract.

Send two hundred fifty dollars and youíll get

nothing

but a headache

and an empty wallet.

I am not your ticket to salvation

or nirvana

or the Bahamas.

I cannot teach you what that guy did

In that movie

the one with the guy who only wears black

who fights that other guy at the end

and always wins.

Five-foot men will not go home with ten-foot egos.

I will not fix your marriage

or fight your demons

or cure your habit

or control your children.

I am not an extracurricular activity.

Do not train for two months so you can put me on your Harvard application.
I am not your childís baby-sitter.

I will not cure your bulimia
or your phobia
or your paranoia
I am no substitute for drugs
for alcohol
for sex
for sanity
for love
I am no substitute for you.

You will still have to be there.

You still have to make choices.

You still have to face reality.

You still have to eat.

I am not the better style.

I canít advertise perfection.

I canít offer you the easy way out.

I canít offer you pleasure without pain
strength without struggle.

But I can give you confidence.

I can show you partial doorways and half-open windows
and give you footholds to climb through them.

I can teach you the art of war
within the war
within the warrior perched inside you.

I can make you want to chase away your habit
to choke out your phobias
to cuddle your children.

I can make you want to eat.

There is no easy way out.

I can make you crave the hard road
the road less traveled
the road that goes on forever,
like the memory of a first kiss
or the sting of tightened fingers across your skin
or a Friday night workout.

I can sell you sanity
from the part of the world where crazy is a relative term
and reality
black
with no sugar coating.
And the art of winning
when winning is everything
and the war
is with your self.