As you know, given that the majority of my time is spent talking about the great literature of the past, sometimes in these blogs I like to discuss the literature of our time, and not just books and poetry, but also music, films, and adaptations. Recently I was reminded of a quote from the ‘Batman Begins’ movie that truly inspired me, and that is, in my mind, an absolute true pearl of wisdom.
I’ll set up the quote for you however, to give a bit on context (and definitely NOT because I’m obsessed with Batman right now…)
Bruce Wayne’s parents have been murdered. Bruce has travelled the world, searching for the meaning of evil, and seeking to understand it and thereby combat it. He is sought by a guild of ninjas that recruit and begin training him to rid him of his former weaknesses. His trainer, a ninja played by the great Liam Neeson, remarks that Bruce must be angry, because it was his father’s fault that both his parents got shot. Bruce defends his father saying that the man had a gun, and that his father was unarmed. Liam coolly asks if that would have stopped Bruce from ‘acting’. Searching for a response Bruce bursts out to the ninja that: ‘I’ve had training,’ – implying that his father had no training whatsoever and therefore would not be able to have engaged a man with a gun.
It is at this point that the quote comes.
The ninja looks at Bruce for a moment as they spar, and then says: ‘The training is nothing. Will is everything,’
At first this idea may seem ridiculous, but I think it resonates with absolute truth. There is an old saying in Shaolin Kung Fu, that ‘First is courage, second is strength, and third is kung fu,’ i.e. third comes the skill and the training, but first comes the courage, or, in other words, ‘the will to act’.
If we look at it in a non-combative way, there are many fantastic musicians in the world. How many of the top ten in any specific style, instrument, or genre are auto-didactic, or in other words, self taught? It’s a large percentage, probably impossible to calculate exactly to be fair, but even for a lot of the musicians that did have tutors or teachers: they began experimenting on their own, or conversely left their teachers to become self taught once they’d reached a certain level. There is a sense that with an absolute motivation to do something, the acquirement of skills becomes secondary to the will to do it itself, and that I believe is what we can learn from a Batman movie…
‘The training is nothing. Will is everything.’ – you have to will something for the training to even begin, and when you do train you find that the thing that sets apart good sportsmen from great, good musicians from phenomenal, excellent writers from the outstanding, is the will and courage that comes through.
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!
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And if you want my recommendation of a film to see: The Dark Knight Rises is coming out July 20th. I’m literally like an excited school girl…