Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Gratitude for the Martial Arts

During the holiday season thoughts often turn to food, presents, and more food. Consumers swarm the malls, looking for that one right gift for a friend, family member, or that one special someone. Online retailers offer coupons, discounts, and other tools to help you compare one item over another. It could become a rather complex process.

In Budo, we are taught to simplify things. Develop strong fundamentals, reduce excessive power, and focus the mind. However, we should realize that the opportunity to train is a luxury many people around the world do not possess. Whether it be cost, or distance, or quality of instruction, there is much we should be grateful for.

Let's take the time during this season, and really put an effort into expressing sincere gratitude to:

  • Your sensei: A good sensei cares about your progress as a student and as a person and accepts the responsibility for your failures, as well as your successes.
  • Your sempai: A good sempai helps you assimilate into the dojo environment and guides you to become an accepted member of the budo "family".
  • Your kohai: A good kohai will be eager to learn, and as such, will teach you about compassion, understanding, and responsibility.
  • Your dojo: A good dojo is any space that you make your own, for it could be a lot worse.
  • Your health: Can you sit in Seiza? If not, can you stand? Can you hold a sword? If so, be grateful for these abilities and be kind to your body and mind.
  • Your organization: A good organization provides opportunities to connect with others through contacts, seminars, gradings, and tournaments.

None of these people or things should be taken for granted and should be treated with the respect you have for any of your most loved people, places, or things. Sure they might have faults, so does everyone including yourself. The goal of Budo is to try to improve a little each day. This is how you can start:

  • Sensei: Show them you are not completely dependent on their attention, that you can work on your own. Show effort and keep an open mind. Try hard. They are here as guides, not as knowledge dumps. Give them time of their own as well. 
  • Sempai: Follow their lead. If you see them doing something for the dojo, try to help out. Make an effort to create a welcome and generous environment.
  • Kohai: On the flip side, if you are the sempai, give your Kohai some direction and show them you have confidence in them helping out and that they are just as important a person in the dojo as anyone else.
  • Dojo: Keep it clean. Keep it safe.
  • Health: Most often neglected by everyone. Your time and potential in the Budo is directly related to your health. You must make it your responsibility to keep it at peak condition. Eat well. Sleep lots. Rest, relax, find treatment, and give yourself time to heal.
  • Organization: Make a contribution with time and energy. Everyone has unique skills. Find a way to make yourself useful. The organization has the ability to help the most number of people, so by helping the organization, you are help the most number of people as well.

Now I must go out and follow my own words =P

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