I was wondering if people actually knew or understood why there are so many rituals and specific practices of etiquette in the martial arts. So, I thought today I might present my viewpoint on this topic.
Martial arts to me means building respect into your daily life. It is achieved by learning and following the often strict, ritual courtesy and etiquette that all students are told to follow when they are training in their martial arts school. Regardless of rank all must follow the prescribed guidelines for bowing, training, wearing of your uniform, speaking to senior students, entering the school, coming and going from the practice floor, leaving the school, and more.
The purpose of these rituals is not to force your respect for others but rather to develop a sincere and strong respect for yourself. If you do not respect yourself how can you respect others? When you respect yourself you can and will develop respect for others.
For example, take the action of “Bowing.” There are many that believe that they do not have to bow to another fellow student or person. That bowing is silly. That bowing has no meaning. That it is beneath them. But, this is not the correct way of thinking.
When you enter your martial arts school your mind should begin preparation for the training that is to follow. This initial bow allows you to focus your mind on what is ahead – your training for that day. It is like a key that unlocks your mind so that you are ready to receive the knowledge that will be transmitted that day. In reality you are showing respect for yourself and acknowledging that you want and are willing to learn.
During a martial arts class the act of bowing lets your seniors and fellow students know that you are paying attention and acknowledging the information or practice that they are conveying to you. It is respect for the mutual interaction that takes you along your journey in the martial arts.
At the end of class bowing is in essence showing your thanks and gratitude for your school – a place where you can come and learn, for your teachers – that they are there and willing to teach you and consider you as family, and for your fellow students – as they are the ones that assist you in your learning by practicing with you.
There is a right and certain way, a praxis, a way of behaving, that emerges from your paradigms and mental programming that must be learned, nurtured and developed if you are to succeed in the martial arts and in life itself. You must practice your martial art in your school and you must continue to mentally practice your martial art throughout every day and in every moment of your living.
Part of the right and certain way is the establishment of an ethical and moral code that you can use as mental programming to shape your paradigms and create your praxis. To that end you must consider the concepts of Rectitude, Heroism, Compassion, Courtesy, Truthfulness and Loyalty.
RECTITUDE simply means making the right decision with consistency in any and all situations that arise during the course of your life. And you know that the RIGHT DECISION is the Moral, Just and Honorable one.
HEROISM has many interpretations and often depends on the situation at hand. But, in everyday life heroism simply means TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE in the right and certain way. A true hero is someone who accomplishes that which they set out do.
COMPASSION although easy to describe is often difficult for many to express. Compassion is a feeling that you get inside when someone else is experiencing pain or suffering. The martial arts stresses action and to that end you must find ways to express compassion for your family, friends, and anyone who may be having problems in their life. Helping is an expression of compassion.
COURTESY is truly needed in today’s society. The “modern world” with its “all about me” attitude could greatly benefit from the simple acts of courtesy. Please, Thank You, Gratefulness, opening the door for someone who has their hands full are all easy expressions of courtesy and they cost you nothing! And you get so much in return. Remember YOU MUST GIVE IF YOU WISH TO RECEIVE.
TRUTHFULNESS is the right and certain way. It is the way of sincerity. When dealing with yourself or others truth is the only way. To be truly aware and be able to see the path to your success you must be true to yourself and others in all dealings and interpersonal relationships. If you are untruthful then the universe will believe that you think being untruthful is acceptable and it will conspire to bring untruthfulness to you from all directions.
LOYALTY, devotion and obedience are all tied together. You should be loyal and devoted to your parents and family and realize that these are the origins, roots and foundation of your life. In the martial arts it is important to be loyal to the school or organization to which you belong. You should realize that it is they that are guiding you along your path of growth, development and improvement. If you can not be loyal you should not be there, it is as simple as that.
All of these things including developing a strong respect for yourself are the beliefs that you can use to shape your paradigm, develop your perceptions and create the praxis by which you live, love, laugh and succeed at everything in your life.
Martial Arts is for Everyone!
Kevin Hufford is a respected martial arts and qigong master and teaches classes, seminars and instructor certification in upstate New York, the USA and Internationally. He is the founder of a new and revolutionary system called Mind Power Qigong. For more information and to CLAIM YOUR COPY of “It’s Your Health, Create It NOW!” please visit – http://mindpowerqigong.com