By. Sensei Alvin Myers
With today's ever-growing violence, disrespect and lack of integrity in the world, how do we as martial artists – whether we are students, teachers, or school owners – make a difference? One could say by simply being involved in the culture of martial arts, we are already doing something – but is it enough? We need to set an example in all we say and do, not just for newer martial artists, but for everyone we interact with: our families, coworkers, friends, everyone. I would like to share a few thoughts on important martial arts morals that I hope you will find useful.
Let us start with one of the core values of martial arts, integrity, and how it can make a difference. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. How does this directly relate to martial arts, you may ask? We have to be honest with our students and each other if we want to continue those relationships. The stronger your moral principles, the more important the need to communicate that to set an example.
For example, we bow as we enter the dojo as a sign of respect to the school, our teachers and each other. Then, we must have the integrity to mean what we indicated with the bow, and show the respect we have promised. This is a moral principal that we do not overlook otherwise it is viewed as disrespectful.
Self-discipline is the practice of obeying rules or adhering to a code of behavior. If you are a martial arts instructor, you may also use discipline to punish students who do not use self-discipline. It can be hard to find the correct discipline that will help a student's growth rather than scare them off, but it is not unattainable. In our school we use pushups, jumping jacks, sit-ups or wall squats to combat with behavior issues. Most of us can agree that this is standard practice and is needed to help maintain the discipline aspect of what we do.
Self-esteem is confidence in one's own worth or abilities and is boosted in our students as they advance in their training. However, how can we help them to gain self-esteem when they feel they are not advancing as quickly as others around them?
One thing I have done is to offer private lessons with the individual. As they train either with me, either in a private lesson or in a group setting, I make a consistent effort be positive and offer tips/best practices to help boost their self-esteem. No matter your preferred method of teaching, this is key I to maintaining good student/teacher kinship.
Finally, respect. This is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. This is a cornerstone of what we do as martial artists, and is a driving factor of either our success or failure.
As instructors/teachers, we have to admire our students for putting forth the effort every day to walk in the door and apply themselves. How often do we see students come in and get discouraged and quit? We are the start and end to how that can or cannot happen. Each of us has different abilities, qualities and achievements that make us who we are and what we do with them is the cornerstone to respect.
Remember that martial arts is about not just physical skills: It's about integrity, discipline, self-esteem and respect. We as instructors or students should be working on building these attributes in ourselves daily, that we can better share them with the world. This is how we can help to grow the martial arts community and to make the world a better place my friends. OSU!!!
Sensei Alvin Myers has over 30 years' training experience in martial arts. His primary style is Shiya-Do Karate, which he teaches at The Dojo Martial Arts and Fitness Academy in Cairo, New York.