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.”
The following article (Part 2 of a 2 part series) was inspired by a number of comments posted by a serious Black Belt instructor who studied with one of my direct students and then expanded the ground aspect of his own MA experience by studying Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I have slightly modified some of the excerpts from my responding comments in order to share the content of our discussion with our general readers.
This instructor explained the challenges he endured when he attempted to add an MMA program to his curriculum, subsequently resulting in a significant degree of dissatisfaction. You can find his original comments written at the end of my previous article titled, “MMA vs. Tradition – Part 4“.
In these comments submitted by my second generation student, he included the “lessons” he had learned from not so positive experience. Part 2 of this series, written below, is a continuation of my responses and remains in context with his comments.
Many years ago, as a young Sensei and long before the recent MMA popularity, I also made some mistakes similar to those lamented by my student’s student in Part 1 of this series. In a sincere attempt to remove what I mistook for “egoism” from my teaching I began to replace the somewhat formal structure in my dojo and began to run it more like a “coach” in a “gym”.
I became lax with dojo protocol such as exchanging courtesies (bowing, etc.) We called each other by first name and even socialized outside the dojo more like “peers”. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how significantly this began “blurring the lines” separating student and Master teacher, particularly, the responsibility to “set the example” that any strong leader and/or mentor must do and not allow himself to become “one of the boys”. (more…)