Today, Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary of independence. They paid a terrible price for it, both in the civil war that followed the declaration, and in resisting the Soviet invasion during the Second World War. The Finnish conduct of the Winter War was an incredible effort of skill, heroism, and sheer sisu (guts, bottom, sheer stubborn refusal to quit). Finland was the only country that Stalin invaded that did not fall. My favourite book on the Winter War is A Frozen Hell by William Trotter. Every martial artist should read up on this, because the problem of an overwhelmingly strong and aggressive opponent is common to all arts.
But that price bought them, eventually, a stable prosperity and a culture of education, arts, and technology, to be proud of.
Finland was my home for many years; I’ve spent far more time in Finland that in any other country in my life, and I’m sad not to be there today. My mum was visiting over the weekend, and on my wife’s suggestion, I got out my trumpet (for the first time in years), and we played Finlandia together.