Let's face it: martial arts has always had weird stereotypes to it. Thanks to movies such as The Karate Kid and Enter the Dragon, it's pretty easy to think about the point of martial arts is all about defeating your adversaries and overcoming every obstacle that comes your way with a few kicks and punches. But martial arts is so much more than that. Martial arts is challenging for the mind, spirit, and body, but if you have the right sensei, you will be able to apply what you have learned in the dojo outside of the dojo as well. Here are a few things my Sensei has taught me over the years.
1. Always do something,even if it may not seem right.
My sensei has always encouraged to always do something. It doesn't matter whether it is true to form or exact technique, but as long as you do something, you are on the better side of it. This has been shown over and over again when my sensei has asked me a question and I say a completely wrong answer, but if people laugh, they always say the same thing, "they did something."
2. The greatest power you can get comes from empowering others.
One thing all my instructors have taught me is that you can be as strong and quick as you want, but the greatest power you can give is empowering others. No matter what, I know that once I walk into the dojo, everyone is working on helping build each other up, and that is how we get stronger.
3. For every one good accomplishment, there will be fifty mistakes, and that is OK.
Here's the thing about martial arts and life in general; you are going to mess up. It happens. You fail a test, you get kicked in the face when you could have blocked, you stepped wrong and break your ankle. The thing is, you have to learn that mistakes are part of learning, and know that when a good thing comes, it is okay to be proud of yourself, just remember that the next day you will make 50 mistakes more.
4.It does not matter if you are the last to finish, all that matters is that you finish.
There are many times in class that one person finishes last, and you know what? They finished. Who cares that they are the slowest at that time? I know my instructors don't, they just want you to do your best, even if that means taking twice as long as the next person.
5. You don't have to be the best, just be better than the day you were before.
In the martial arts, there seems to be this idea that you need to be the best of the best in order to be respected or admired. But this is not the case. So many times we compare ourselves to others, and all that does is weigh us down. I have learned that so what if my kicks are not the best? They were better than they were two weeks before, and that is progress. Progress does not come from beating out others, it comes from beating your best score.
And last, but not least,
6. The greatest gift you can give someone is respect.
When I walk into the dojo, I know for a fact that respect is the top most important thing we can give each other. We bow to each other before we fight, in the beginning and at the end of class, and when entering the dojo. It is just a way of acknowledging that we respect all those who enter there. And on top of that, we all want each other to succeed, and if we go through life helping encourage others and give them our respect, the world will be much better than it was before.
So to those who think martial arts is just about punching, know that it is so much more than that. There are lessons I have learned and use every single day thanks to what I have been taught, and I believe these are things that make the world a much better place.