The other night a student came up to me and said “I like your watch. I have the same one. My buddy got me a good deal on it because, you know, it ‘fell off the back of the truck’.”
And I said, “What are you telling me that for? Don’t tell your martial arts teacher that you’re buying stolen goods!”
He said, “What’s wrong? Everybody does it.”
“I don’t care what everybody does. It’s not right, and not appropriate to brag to me about it,” I said.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, but this short exchange raises two important points for those of us interested in the deeper practice of martial arts.
First, it’s very important how we behave in the world. To this end, we need to know our values.
Our values are what we will or won’t do, no matter who else is doing it or what other people say about it.
Think about it: everything we do counts. If someone else knows about it or if they don’t, what we choose to do has an impact – even if it’s only on us. We can’t disregard what’s important – our beliefs or values – just because we think no one’s looking.
Second, it’s very important to have someone in our lives who is always pulling us a little bit higher than our own self-concept.
That’s to say, someone who won’t tolerate from us the nonsense that other people let us get away with.
The martial arts have always been the source of these people for me. They are who I designate as my teachers.
So…Mr. Vizzio will come tonight and he’ll yell at me about something that I’m missing.
I’ll say ,“I’m sorry, I’m just such an idiot”. And he’ll say what he has said before:
“It’s OK. We need to have someone above us to keep us in line.”
That’s just a reminder, a way to say we’re all alright where we’re at…as long as we keep going forward and higher.
Another of my instructors puts it differently. He says that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep their own heart ignited for the fire of life. That it’s our task – that of every person on the planet Earth – to keep that fire glowing and not let it go dark.
And I believe that the practice of martial arts, and the great teachers that come from it, is a very good way to keep your heart full of the fire of life.
It’s a wonderful routine for understanding our values and coming to terms with ourselves. With a deep teacher, and surrounded by compassionate peers, we rise higher than we would on our own – which is the purpose of all good martial arts.
For more about our larger project of cooperative Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training, visit the Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brooklyn BJJ) website here.
Contact Gene Dunn here and Brian Glick here.