Increase the Peace
(A How-To Guide)

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Those of you have trained over at 13th Avenue know that on Friday nights the neighborhood can seem pretty wild…and Dunkin Donuts is a hot spot—dozens and dozens of kids go there to hang out. So there’s usually some kind of conflict brewing.

One recent Friday night, two teens got into it out on the corner. I heard some shouting. Someone shoved someone else, and before I knew it a fight had broken out.

I could see it all from inside the dojo. So I walked to the front of the school, opened up the door, and shouted out to them, “Hey! Everyone, chill! Peace! Peace!”

Almost at once, the fighting ceased. The crowd dispersed, and people went their own ways.

I went back inside, and one of the students said, “What did you just do?”

I said, “Sometimes people need to hear the word peace to bring them back to their senses. When they do, they realize that they’ve gone overboard. They’ve become reactive in the moment.”

We then talked about being “agents of peace” in this classroom. I reminded everyone that really the only time to use martial arts –  as a physical solution – is in the pursuit of justice.

But the paradox is that to arrive at this place of peace, of no-fighting, you have to have already forged your body and your mind into a very powerful weapon.  You have to transform your thoughts and then your body into a very powerful weapon, the weapon of truce.

When you discover that level of self-control, you also discover that you are very vulnerable. But that also reminds you that other people are vulnerable, too. And they just need an good enough reason to stop fighting.

I am deeply moved these days by some of the horrific goings on in the world, and so I’m delivering this message as a reminder that we have a responsibility to others through our practice.

What we do, what we think, and what we say, contribute to what goes on in the world. Be it good, or be it bad. Our contribution may not be so readily visible, but sooner or later it shows up. 

Remember your attitude, your thoughts, your motivation or intentions can’t happen without sending off a cascade of reactions. This is what I mean by taking on the role of being “agents of peace.” We have to implement it, if we want to be contributors of peace, even on a micro-scale, because the world doesn’t need more violence.

And for us, for you and me, the place to begin is by making sure that the world doesn’t have another black belt who’s just a bully. It doesn’t need a person whose martial skills are dedicated exclusively to their own self-interest, or who uses his or her power to add more brutality.

When each of us makes a commitment to being “an agent of peace,” then we become peacemakers. I encourage all my students to contemplate what this means, where we can do good, and how far we can take this idea of helping keep the peace.

– Gene Dunn & Foundation of Love


For more about our larger project of cooperative Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training, please visit the
Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brooklyn BJJ) website here
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