I can’t recall the last time I’ve felt as free as when I moved my body through a room to perform some strike or movement, it is empowering to be filled with the idea that even in the grace of movements; destruction is also equally present at the end result like some universal balance.
Martial Arts had been a major part of my life and having learnt it as carefully as a scholar opting for a doctorate, I pursued it with such passion that it brings me joy to know that close to what I thought was the end of its rope, only further mountains were presented to climb.
It is in the journey that one is moulded into something beautiful and valuable, someone whose insecurities are lessened and whose faith in the world is restored, even if briefly.
Martial Arts have always been my form of meditation. It has given me the “Universal balance” I needed that helped me know myself even more.
It all began when I was but an expatriate kid living in Kuwait in the 90’s, where the atmosphere for young boys was that of street fights, chest-puffing and trying to gain bragging rights amongst the other fellow boys of neighbourhood and neighbouring areas.
Back then, I was as scared as any other kid because none of the fights were fair; we were always outnumbered five to one and I hardly knew how to throw a decent punch, I just had rage as my weapon.
In those years, Bedouin teenagers would roll into the city and bully us as well as our parents, knowing no sense of fear or retaliation as they were always moving around in big numbers with ten people being the norm.
My brother was three years younger than I but he was infamous back then for being a never-say-die maverick who accepted any fight on any day, even fighting people often times much bigger than he was while I was a guy who did my best to avoid such situations while pursuing my love for wrestling and boxing, often times just sparring with my brother when we were bored.
His young blood boiled with such fire that by the age of 14, they called him “Jackie”, after Jackie Chan because of his half Asian look despite not having a lick of knowledge in Kung Fu. He had many friends and followers on the street who knew him on first glance that often when we walked around the area, he would be greeted left and right by gangs on the street with a shout of his name or a handshake from random men who would approach us while I was completely unknown to them.
Even with his reputation, whenever we sparred, we were always either tied or I had won because I knew how to dissect him and the way he fought. This is the true nature of battle; you can puff their chest all you want but there will always be someone out there better than you.
I thought that by fighting someone like him and besting him that it had meant I was greater than all the opponents he had faced before and this was my strongest idea back then but one day I realized just how wrong that thought was.
I entered college a few years later and thinking my old battle tactics worked, used the exact same blue print of “macho-man” mentality when around other men as when I lived in Kuwait. It did not sit well with many men and women, they found it arrogant and unbecoming of a gentleman and it was in one street fight that I realized just how wrong I had been about the whole “male mentality”.
I was soundly defeated by one man who had challenged me even when surrounded by his friends, he decided to fight me one-on-one (Something that would never have happened back in the streets of Kuwait.) I thought he would be easy as I was used to fighting multiple people against me but at the end, I fought so hard, exhausting myself while all he did was take his time with me and catch me on every flaw of movement I made such as pulling my hand back to make a hard swing or every time I tried to show off my power by grabbing him where I was met with a sharp boxing hook or a kick to the leg or side. I was outclassed and utterly defeated without so much effort on his part.
Most men in defeat usually wallow in shame and I was no exception, after being taken down so easily when I thought I was unbeatable, the very defeat crushed me and everything I thought I was. I started to ask myself why my “manliness” didn’t work and how did such a thing happened to me?
This sense of loss is true in many people and I will tell you, it’s a necessary lesson which tells us that “Image isn’t everything”. We need to humble ourselves for the world is populated with so many unique people and their amazing ideas…no one is above the other, we are all equally different.
At this point, I started to do away with the useless need to “prove I was a man” all the time and started to just concentrate on what made me happy such as music, drawing, writing and going around different places to explore the food and ambience. I started not to care about what people thought of me as I was happy of what I had thought of myself and knew I was content with who I was growing to be. My defeat buried the boy in me and let the man come out to explore the real world.
Martial Arts, however, could not leave my system.
I joined the Varsity Judo club shortly after and with this new found perspective in life, I found love for what I do over the need to prove my power in the Japanese Martial Art as I studied each throw, choke and lock with passion. I would gladly go through the training drills to strengthen the legs and body and found control and peace in all my own movements as I got better- at this point a new realization had hit me: None of the “True Martial Artists” ever start fights.
It became apparent to me through my mentors and masters over the years as I would learn from men with the precision and deadliness of warriors and assassins while easily joking and eating beside them as if they were family without the fear that they would be offended and harm me.
It was because they never raised their hands even when angry towards people who had wronged them, they never needed to show off their incredible repertoire of techniques and conditioned muscles over years and years of steady training.
They were soft spoken and preferred not to fight compared to earlier martial artists I’ve met in my life who always wanted to show off their latest, deadliest strike or kick and always wanted to be venerated as powerful lords over their students…My mentors weren’t like that, they would shake their head if I did wrong but wouldn’t yell at me, they would smile if I did my task correctly and pat me on the shoulder to tell me I’ve done well, they were thorough and strict but not arrogant in a sense that they always stopped enough to listen to what you had to say.
Discipline and grace was all I could sum up as words to describe them.
I understood this feeling of meditative peace from the calmness they gave me as I strove hard to learn and excel not for them but for myself in every system and art they taught me, to the point we welcomed each other as brothers than student and master and it is this sense of peace that I wished to share with the world.
Early 2016, I created a cognitive learning system called “Prometheus”, basing most of its approaches and movements from all my past earned martial arts and experiences however, it was still incomplete in such a way that, though it strove for simplicity, it merely took the simplest and most efficient techniques from other established martial arts but mastered none of them to a fine point. It was like trying to learn an unfinished song.
I fixed this problem a bit later when I was commissioned to create a whole system to help train a 16 year old boy who had suffered extreme bullying, finalizing what I later called “Damian’s Circle”; named after my student. It was a simple combination of only 10 techniques designed to maximize every movement and strike to its optimum effect with the goal of it being that after all 10 techniques were memorized and mastered; the student would internalize it and start creating his own combinations and techniques.
It was a big success when after 3 months; my student had mastered it along with gaining a strong sense of self-confidence and inner peace for himself. It became the first step to perfecting what I had been trying to do for the longest time…to create a form of martial education that worked with the mind over the body to allow them the ability to “learn their own movements”.
Shortly after “Damian’s Circle” was perfected came the next step in the evolving system later to be known as “PRIME”. The next step was to train concepts and theories for simple understanding of complicated internal bodily processes during combative situations by teaching them all about the way “Time “ functions and how “Psyche” can affect the physical sides of situations by either strengthening its power or weakening it.
Breathing and it’s multiple forms and functions was later introduced to reduce stress of the body and mind and even games and exercises were later created to feed the mind’s ability to learn from recalled events over written texts and repetitive movements.
The final step came when I delved into stage magic and sleight of hand, to learn all about the amazing ability of the human perception and its ways of taking shortcuts through a 12 watt brain as well as how visual illusions and angles functioned. It was through this final step that “PRIME” was born.
It was given concepts that helped better the overall function of the whole system as well as fluidly linking everything without the rigidness of uncertainty in motions to the non-hesitating manner it moved in.
PRIME stands for Prometheus Reaction-Immersive Martial Education and as its name states, this isn’t a Martial Art that has a deep roots in culture but rather an academic approach to something everyone muddles up with mixtures of self-importance and ego, which is the beauty of actual Martial Arts- the full expression of the human body, very much like dancing…only it preserved life from physical, mental and psychological harm from the outside world.
Every breath is precious, every movement is a statement of our minds, every thought is an intention of our emotions…they are all connected and it was all thanks to Martial Arts that I had found this sense of peace within myself.
There is an Old Russian martial art I once studied whose real name is “Poznai sebia”, it translates to “Discover thyself”. I believe we all should try to find ourselves for its only one life we have and only one worth living.
May you try to find your sense of peace in life but if ever you need a path to get you started, you may join us in our “Meditative Martial Understanding” through PRIME and unlock your hidden potential.
We would be honoured to go on your journey with you.
-By Misha’al Ahmad L. Askar