A Rube Goldberg machine is a chain-reaction contraption intentionally designed to complete a simple task in an overly complex way. I remember first learning about them when I was younger and saw a commercial for the board game "Mouse Trap" in which you have to build such a machine to trap your opponents. These mechanisms are laughably complicated, but still mesmerizing to watch.
The chain-reaction part of it is what is most interesting to me. You could have something so small, such as a domino falling or a ball rolling, initiate a whole sequence of events that lead to a (menial) task being performed. At the end of the day, all these components are intertwined, so what happens to one will impact the others.
And this is what happens when people are united together. Whether it be on a soccer team or working together on a group project in school, the choices of one person can positively or negatively affect other people. But when people work together, they can achieve more. However, this is the blog of a martial arts school, and martial arts is not traditionally a team sport. So what does unity have to do with what we practice?
You have to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve through martial arts. Is it about punching or kicking? Is it about beating the competition? No, martial arts are about betterment. We improve ourselves through physical fitness and protect ourselves through self-defense. But that betterment extends past ourselves. We should not only seek to enhance our own lives, but the lives of those around us. And so, like the Rube Goldberg machine, we must remember that our actions affect other people. We are all united together on our walks of life, so as we carry on, we must take into account how we will impact our fellow man.
That's it. This is a short blog post. There's not much more to be said. We must teach students that their life is not just self-serving. Most people may only want to unite with one another to make their lives better. But instead we must want to make other people's lives better because we know that we are already united with one another. Not just united as martial artists, but united as people.
About the Author
Master Matthew Eyler is a 4th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do and a New York State certified general and special education teacher. He has over 20 years experience practicing self-defense and teaching students of all ages and abilities.