The Unknown Starving Martial Artist
You can be a great Martial Artist, you can be a great Martial Arts teacher but that does not ensure that you will be successful in the Martial Arts industry. It does not ensure that you will own a financially successful Martial Arts Business. People who are good at Business, are good at making money. Often times, in order to make the most amount of money, you will have to be comfortable exploiting others for cheap labor. Often times, in order to make much money, you will have to take advantage of certain opportunities. Business people know how to make money, that is their realm of expertise. Artists on the other hand are the creators of Art but they are not necessarily competent in making money. The ways of business contradict the ways of Art.
Vincent Van Goah painted thousands of paintings during his lifetime. He lived poor and died poor, he did not even sell one painting during his lifetime. But after his death, his paintings are now being sold for millions. None of these people have created these works of Art, but they are all profiting from the Art of which they did not create. They may buy one of his pieces of Art for $500,000 and then sell it to someone else for $1 million. Vincent Van Goah lived and died poor but everybody after his death are profiting off of his paintings.
I see the same has occurred with Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee creates the Art of Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee lived poor and died poor. But yet there are former students of his whom are profiting thousands if not millions from the Art of which he created. Bruce Lee had personal writings that were unpublished. But after his death, his writings are published and profited from by many. Bruce Lee created films, and after his death, many have profited from the sales of the films. His images have been turned into action figurines, t-shirts are made, posters, and all sorts of paraphernalia in order to profit. Interviews are produced, books are written, and all profit is being made off of his name and image. All this money is being generated after Bruce Lee’s death. Even material items of which he owned is auctioned off and sold for profit. So the creator lives and dies poor, but thousands after his death profit from his creativities.
Bruce Lee was a real Martial Artist that lived and died poor. Dana White is not a Martial Artist but is a businessman who is a multi millionaire who is profiting off of setting up fights. Mike Tyson was a great boxer and Don King was the promoter who was making money off of Mike Tyson by simply being the promoter. The promoter is the businessman. The promoter many times will end up even richer than the professional athlete. Rarely do you see instances where you have the athlete who is also the promoter as well, such as Mayweather. Mayweahter is an amazing boxer as well as a great businessman, rarely is that the case.
You can have a great Artist, but he is not great in business. If he is not great in business, he can be unknown for all his life. Those who are well known are not necessarily great Artists; they just have great marketing and business strategies. Business and Art is not the same. Many times it is very difficult for the Artist to become great in business, because in order to become great in business, you will have to sacrifice the integrity of your Art. A beautiful woman Artist is unknown and makes very little being fully clothed on stage, but if convinced to strip on stage while singing, now she can generate millions, it becomes a dilemma within on whether or not to sacrifice your internal values for profit and fame.
As a Martial Art teacher you wish to hold up to the integrity of the Martial Arts by only certifying somebody as a “BlackBelt” whom has been trained properly for a couple of decades. But holding up to this integrity makes the school less profitable, giving in and certifying people to be BlackBelts in less than 1 year will make the business very profitable. As a Martial Art teacher you may wish to hold up to the integrity of the Martial Arts by not allowing or promoting for any of your students to enter any tournaments of any sort, but once again this will hurt the profit of your school, giving in and promoting tournaments and competition will make the business very profitable.
Bruce Lee was a strong individual. Bruce Lee stood up against racism. He would not allow directors to push him around; he refused to participate in any movies that disrespected the Chinese in anyway. The directors tried to have him lose a fight to Robin in a scene and he refused. When teaching Jeet Kune Do before getting into acting, he realized that what he had to offer, the Americans were simply not ready for, his students were not living up to the standards of which he expected, he closed down his schools before going into acting in order to retain the integrity of quality in the Martial Arts. When he became famous, he purposefully did not publish any of his books instructing people in his ways because he knew that the material was going to be used and abused. He knew that people would take what he created to profit off of themselves and claim that they were his students when they were not.
When you become famous, there will be many people that will try hard to take from what you have in order to make money for themselves. When it comes to business, it is a vicious and dirty game of profit out there. People will steal your ideas and profit from them. People will use you as a slave to profit from you, just like Don King was doing to Mike Tyson and what Dana White is doing to all Cage Fighters. When people see an opportunity to make money off of you, they will be all over you; they will seek to control your life. When this happens, the integrity of real Art is lost. Now you are not an Artist any longer, you have become a puppet in the hands of others. You have become a money making machine. The Artist is lost; you have become a slave to the Industry.
Many times, true Artists will live poor, die poor, and die unknown. It is the sacrifice that true Artists make to live up to the integrity of the Art of which they wish to represent.