Thursday, March 6, 2014

10 Commandments...

For Martial Artists

I was thinking one day about a sort of "10 Commandments" for martial artists, wondering if they existed, and if so, what would they be? I had a no-show in the park so I came up with these. They're not so much about what to do in martial encounters, situations are so different and they demand different responses and attitudes. These are more general rules about overall attitude and behavior. I started out just for fun, but once I got into it I realized that some of these common sense rules are not so common. I've seen or heard about all of them being violated at one point or another. I'm sure you all have some of your own personal rules and I'm sure I've left out all kinds of things. These are just the first things that came to mind. Curious what you think or what you would add or subtract.

In no particular order:

1. Do not pass off second-hand information or stories as if they happened to you or as if they were true. Always attribute where the story or info came from. Example: "Here's a story I heard about Master Ho-Ho from Bill who swears it actually happened."

2. Do not pass off someone else's work or insights as your own. Give credit where credit is due.

3. Practice martial honesty. Do not exaggerate your abilities or claim that something "works" if you haven't tested it yourself. Always tell the whole truth. Example 1: "Adam Chan has tested this and says it works against a side-kick but I haven't tried it yet." Example 2: "This is supposed to be a defense against a side-kick but I'm not an experienced fighter so I really don't know for sure."

4. Don't open your dojo right across the street from someone else's if you can help it. Or if you do, at least go over and talk to them about it. Respect people's territories even if you don't like their particular style. Example: I moved to a small town and started putting up my flyers...Soon I realized that one of the other teachers in town was teaching credit classes at our local university, so out of respect, I stopped putting up flyers around campus.

5. Don't reveal things said in confidence or posted in closed forums to the general public without permission. One exception would be if you feel it is necessary to expose a real injustice or gross hypocrisy and even then do it reluctantly.

6. The Bob Dylan Rule. "Don't criticize what you can't understand." Know what you’re talking about and back your criticism with evidence, or don't say anything. Don't just call people names.

7. Be constructive where possible in MA forums or on youtube, and when people post rude, nasty, racist, mean-spirited or obscenity filled stuff on your videos or threads, delete their comments and/or block them from commenting further. Don't give rude nasty people a forum.

8. Don't use MA to bully, intimidate or otherwise hurt innocent people. Don’t teach people who you think will use MA in this way. Don't strut, don’t brag, don’t swagger. Your work will speak for itself.

9. Don’t be dogmatic. Your opinion is your opinion, your understanding is your understanding, not The Gospel Truth. Express it as such and avoid absolute statements. Keep an open mind and don’t be too defensive when receiving criticism. MA is a large subject and there is more to research here than most of us could do in 5 lifetimes. Just about anyone who’s trained and researched this stuff seriously, even if just for a year or two, has at least something of value to share. Be willing to learn from anyone, even total jerks or people less experienced than you are. Don’t reject good information because you don’t like the source.

10. Don't abuse the power you have over your students for personal gain. Don't pressure them into doing you favors or string them along after they've basically learned what you have to teach them. When they have outgrown you, let them go. Teaching is not about how skilled you are, your theories or insights or mission. Those are all great to have, but teaching is not about you. It is about what this person in front of you needs and is capable of learning today, in this lesson, right now, that will be of use to them.