A CALL to ARMS to all Martial Artists
This post is also available in: Italian
This post is the first in a series of articles under the topic; “Restoring INTEGRITY, HONOR, and RESPECT to the Martial Arts”. Nothing written here is intended as an indictment against any particular individual and/or organization. It is simply an effort to shed the light of truth on some very significant practices and emerging “norms’ that appear to have begun to undermine many of the most positive benefits of martial arts activity. If we, the passionate practitioners and alleged “LEADERS” of the Martial Arts do no stand together for TRUTH, JUSTICE, and INTEGRITY, then we will continue to see the degradation of those things which have benefited us greatly and the subsequent disappearance of the fruits of those noble predecessors who sacrificed much so that we can enjoy what we have today. Please join in the discussion, constructively, and positively. There can be strength in numbers, however, history has shown us that even a few passionate and determined patriots can ignite the brushfires of a justifiable revolution. Let us work together to establish and maintain Might for Right!
WALK or TALK?
As I have previously contended, the difference between Martial “Technique” and Martial “Art” is that with Martial Arts training there exists the uniquely specific opportunity for the inclusion of all areas of development of the full human potential: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual. The hypothetical search for balance and harmony between these human aspects and the noble principles learned are implied by the term “DO” (DAO), sometimes translated/interpreted as the “WAY” or “PATH”. (Please do not confuse this “Philosophy” with the “Religion” named, “Daoism”, although there may exist some parallels.)
We, however, as martial arts practitioners and alleged leaders have a much greater responsibility to “WALK the WALK”, not just “TALK the TALK”. As with many other human endeavors, our flowery words sound wonderful and can be inspiring to many. The primary issue presented along with these “ethics” is the challenge to each of us to put our high sounding words and philosophy into ACTION. “Congruous ACTION forms the substance of any alleged philosophy.”
In recent years we have experienced quite a disappointing degradation of the Integrity, Respect, and Honor in the Martial Arts. These changes have been facilitated by too many martial arts leaders and practitioners (including Asian, Western, European, and Middle Eastern) who tend to apply such high standards when in judgment of other’s actions but regularly find convenient excuses for their own lapses of integrity and honesty.
It seems that the competition for acceptance and maintenance of our individual place in the “pecking order” within the world of martial arts has successfully tempted many (even the previously credible) martial artists to exaggerate, distort, manipulate, and otherwise rationalize their own departure from truth/reality and from the very values and ethics they fervently preach about. It has been quite interesting to observe how so many have conveniently attempted to re-write, amend, and downright distort their own history and even that of others when it serves their purpose.
William Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing more common than the desire to be remarkable.” (Quite profound!) Where else, other than in martial arts and religion, can an unremarkable individual present themselves as “remarkable” with little real evidence to support such preposterous claims? In what other activity can an individual with minimal education, research, and pertinent, verifiable actions and/or accomplishments claim the status of “Master”, “Grand Master”, Hanshi, Shihan, Soke, and/or any of a plethora of grandiose titles ad nauseum? Where else can individuals create a pseudo-persona with the stroke of a pen, an embroidered belt/sash, and a slick website while those of credible substance look the other way and continue to play this game of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”?
On the other hand, some martial artists are second only to overly religious individuals in their self-righteous application of their values and ethics upon others while forgiving themselves for even more egregious compromises of the same. (Please note that this statement is not intended as an indictment of anyone who has a sincere, profound faith or personal relationship with the Creator of all things. If, in fact, you do feel convicted by this statement, the perhaps you may consider examining the profound difference between man-made “religion” and GOD inspired “relationship”.) In the Bible, the Book of Matthew (Chapter 7, verse 3, 4, & 5), the author states: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck for your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own? Hypocrite: first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” NKJV
7 STEPS toward Integrity, Honor, and Respect
Therefore, I challenge everyone within the reach of these words (starting with myself) to make a personal pledge to execute the following 7 STEPS:
1.) First, CLEAN YOUR OWN HOUSE. Begin by taking a long hard look in the mirror.
2.) RESIST focusing on the shortcomings of others. Save your efforts and energy for more constructive goals.
a.) This does not mean to ignore dishonesty or falsity. If honest men do not stand up for honest words and their congruent actions then evil will prevail. Be advised to remember that a “half truth” is simply a disguising word for a “lie”.
b.) The best way to flush out dishonesty is to humbly demonstrate and/or present that which is honest directly next to what is dishonest. (The operative word here is “humbly”. )
c.) People are not stupid, they will see the contrast for themselves, can make their own evaluations, and form their own opinions.
d.) Those who are not interested in honesty deserve the consequences of their own choices, so allow them to suffer what they choose! Many times “pain” is the best school master anyway.
3.) BE ENCOURAGED to find the COURAGE to admit (first to yourself) those exaggerations, partial truths, and excesses that you have tolerated to seep into your own actions and with those under your charge.
a.) Remember that true “COURAGE” is not the absence of fear, rather it is the taking of action in spite of fear.”
b.) It takes much courage to admit your own errors and misjudgments. First, to yourself, and when appropriate, to others who matter.
4.) TAKE ACTION, be the first to change direction and turn from this behavior. In doing that, let those actions serve as a living, breathing example of real “ETHICS”.
5.) BECOME the “LEADER” by doing these things first . That, in itself, will be “REMARKABLE”!
6.) REMEMBER, also that “INTEGRITY IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS WATCHING!”
a.) One definition of “Illusion” is when one creates the appearance of reality out non-reality.
b.) A definition of “Delusion” is when one actually believes his own propaganda!
7.) A “LEADER” is someone who does something first.
a.) If you honestly consider yourself to be a TRUE LEADER then be first do what is right by your own actions, regardless of any immediate and/or temporary gain or loss.
b.) You may actually surprise someone!
PART OF THE SOLUTION OR PART OF THE PROBLEM?
It is long past due in this world that PEOPLE of CHARACTER begin to “MAKE IT REAL”, to “BE REAL” and then to continue to “KEEP IT REAL”. This CALL TO ARMS applies not only “IN THE DOJO” but more significantly, “IN EVERYDAY LIFE” among your family, friends, and community. Only then will we truly become “DOERS of the WAY” rather than merely “TALKERS of the WAY”.
I exhort you to let your daily actions become the most profound “teacher” of your alleged philosophy. Only then will we return to our rightful role to remain relevant and make any significant difference in today’s society where the “anti-hero” has become glorified while the wholesome men and women sincerely seeking righteousness and truth have more commonly become marginalized and even ridiculed. If you do not purpose in your heart to make your actions part of the solution, then you will ultimately resign yourself to being a part of the problem. The choice is yours and yours alone.
TAKE NOTICE AND GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.
“….AND THAT’S THE WAY I SEE IT!“©