Monday Musing: The Martial Artist Outside the Dojo

What does a martial artist look like outside the dojo?

This is my question for my youth students this week.

It may seem like it has an obvious answer, but it can sometimes be a challenge to get youth to translate from dojo to home. They know that focus and respect and trying your best is important while they’re in class, but what do those things mean when they argue with their siblings at home or are given a challenging assignment at school?

A true martial artist should look the same inside and outside the dojo.

Outside the dojo, the situations are different. You don’t have to bow to your mom or your boss, or perform forms in order to get an A in math class, but the attitude you should take towards those activities is the same.

As martial artists grow, they begin to understand how powerful they truly are. Sometimes, instead of continuing to exert that power over themselves and their emotions, they direct their efforts at controlling the things around them.

The sticky part about ego is that a certain amount of it is necessary for us to believe in ourselves and to push ourselves beyond our limits to achieve high ranks in the martial arts. Anyone who’s been through a tough black belt exam knows how good it feels to succeed.

Similarly, we all also know that a black belt on a power trip is not exhibiting an attitude worthy of their rank.

However, when people get caught up in their emotions or in the details of situations they face, sometimes, somewhere along the way, they forget how to behave honorably and in accordance with martial arts philosophy. We are, after all, only human.

I believe a martial artist’s biggest inner struggle is with managing the self. To do that, examine the reasons why you aim for black belt.

Aim to achieve rank so that you are in a position to give back, not just self-defense skills, but to help others gain the same self-confidence you gained as you walked the martial path.

What does humility mean to you?

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