Martial Arts Ann Arbor - Jujutsu | Jujitsu | Jiu-Jitsu

To Whom Much is Given

To whom much is given, much is expected. This is nowhere more true than in the traditional martial arts. Along with the great skills that we learn and the progressively more impressive belt colors, we also must accept more and more responsibility. Truly, a life in the martial arts is one of service: to the dojo, to one another, to the art, and to the community.

Service to the Dojo: a traditional dojo cannot exist without the enthusiastic support of its members. Members pay dues, of course, but beyond that, they ought to help out with special events, speak well about the dojo to their friends and acquaintances, and be helpful to the sensei and the other students.

Service to One Another: since we spend a great deal of time working on techniques that could potentially hurt one another, it is important to balance this with kindness and caring. While there's no need to be overly tender with other dojo members, it is nevertheless important to try to protect them from injury, help them learn, and, if they are in business, to send business their way. By looking out for one another, the entire dojo community thrives.

Service to the Art: traditional martial arts are fragile things, easily lost or corrupted. It is our duty (one that increases the longer we're involved), to try to pass on the spirit of our art in as close a form as possible to when we received it. We should speak well of our art, and encourage other decent people to practice it. We should guard it from people who might corrupt it or use it for pure commercial gain. Our connection with history is a unique element of our practice, and we must be vigilant about protecting it.

Service to the Community: we sometime say that martial artists should "own" the consequences of their actions. This helps us in learning techniques: if our skills don't work, we must admit that fact and practice until they do. It also helps us in getting along in the world: if your behavior upsets other people, then we must admit this and work to try to be a positive force in the world. In business, if we are not succeeding, as martial artists we don't blame the economy, the community, or other outside factors. Instead, we internalize by asking ourselves what we could do better to succeed. If we reflect on our roles in the community and improve our actions accordingly, we can make our environment a better place to live.

The Japanese Martial Arts Center
would like to thank the many Ann Arbor businesses that support this blog, both martial arts-related and others, including: Network Services Group, Art of Japanese Swordsmanship, Shudokan Martial Arts Association, Budo Mind and Body, Art of Judo, Iaido Dot Com, Lorandos and Associates, Oxford Companies, Bluestone Realty Advisors, Portfolio Ann Arbor, Invest Ann Arbor, the Law Office of Nicklaus Suino and the ITAMA Dojo.

Love and Courage

At the Aikibudoin at Dartmouth College, on their shomen, is some calligraphy in Japanese that says, roughly translated, "Have I loved enough, have I showed enough courage?"

This is a wonderful admonishment to martial arts students of every variety: kendo, karatedo, aikido, or any-do. It helps to remind us of two of the most important virtues found in budo.

Perhaps the more obvious virtue is courage. It takes courage to face a strong punch, kick, or throw, whether in the dojo or in self-defense. Of course, the real courage we are trying to exhibit is the courage to do the right thing, even when it is scary or unpopular. It can be much harder to calm an angry person or coach a misguided teenager than to block a front kick, but as martial artists it is our responsibility to do the right things, even when they are difficult.

It may be less obvious that martial artists should be loving, but truly, without love we cannot live well in the world. In the dojo, love can take the form of the kindness shown by the teacher to his students, or the bond that develops between training partners. Kindness between those who practice fighting arts is critical to the success of any traditional martial arts school.

This is an excellent question with which to evaluate any training session: "Have I loved enough, have I shown enough courage?"

The Japanese Martial Arts Center would like to thank the many Ann Arbor businesses that support this blog, both martial arts-related and others, including: Network Services Group, Art of Japanese Swordsmanship, Shudokan Martial Arts Association, Budo Mind and Body, Art of Judo, Iaido Dot Com, Lorandos and Associates, Oxford Companies, Bluestone Realty Advisors, Portfolio Ann Arbor, Invest Ann Arbor, the Law Office of Nicklaus Suino and the ITAMA Dojo.