Culture in the Martial Arts School: Commitment & Honor

What kind of martial art do you do? What place, country, nation, or people does it come from? How much do you know about the culture of that country, historically or contemporarily? Is your understanding simple, or is it deep and complex?

What kind of place do you live in? What are the values of the people in your specific locale? What kind of culture are you stepping into when you bow in for class? How does “dojo culture” differ from the wider culture your dojo is situated in?

Today, I want to talk about two deeper values that are common to many traditional martial arts: commitment and honor. I want to define these two values, and then talk about how YOU might be expected to SHOW those values in your school or training hall.

Obviously, all schools are different. These values may not be as important in your specific school. I’m going to talk about these ones because, in my nearly two decades of training, being a student and guest in dozens of schools, these are the ones that in my experience stand out across many styles, places, teachers, and schools.


Martial Arts and Values

Hey, all! Just dropping by the blog to tell a story that happened to me a while back.

I was speaking with family friend’s child about their schoolwork. We were trying to figure out how to improve on what they’d begun.

What astonished me was not only that they listened respectfully, they were also quick to volunteer that they were responsible for something! Without me prompting them, they admitted to getting distracted while working. They were also open to some ideas about what they could do next time, like re-read their work out loud to make sure it sounded okay.

This young person was not a martial artist at NWSMA, but they had trained in martial arts elsewhere, and they did a couple other contact sports. I was impressed, not only that they could understand their mistakes, but also that they could admit to some personal tendencies that were getting in the way.

It was a mature, responsible, and open-minded attitude, and that kind of attitude lends itself to quick learning and growth.

What is it about martial arts and contact sports that lead to this kind of attitude?

Well, in a sparring match or tournament, martial artists usually spar one-on-one. This leaves very little room for blaming anything other than yourself when you lose! Martial artists are forced DAILY to look their mistakes in the eye and figure out how to become better.

Just another reason why martial arts are so awesome!