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

Relations Between Martial Arts Schools

Those of us who grew up watching Bruce Lee and other actors in martial arts movies sometimes believe that dojos in the same town are always in conflict. In fact, Ann Arbor is a mecca for martial arts training, and the relationships between schools are usually quite cordial. When we interact with instructors and students from other schools, it is important to be respectful, open-minded, and helpful.

Respect: regardless of whether you happen to like the martial arts taught at another school, there are good people who have chosen to dedicate themselves to those arts. They may have different reasons for training, different physical needs, or find the school more convenient than the one you have have chosen. It is important to treat them with respect, since they may be very decent people who have simply made different choices than you have.

Open-Mindedness: there is always something more to learn in martial arts. The idea that martial arts mastery takes an entire lifetime is more than a cliche, it is a verifiable fact. As a result, there are many facets of martial arts, such as fine points of physical movement, character development, or quality teaching skills, that one can learn simply by paying attention to others who are devoted to martial arts excellence.

Helpfulness: it pays to be helpful. The martial arts community is a fairly small one, and nowhere is it more true that "what goes around comes around." Even if you are not a great competitor or master teacher, people will remember and respect you if you are helpful to them. One obvious situation in which this happens is when you tell a fellow student about a martial arts school that he or she might find enjoyable. It may not always be your own school, because that person might not be looking for the things offered by your school, but if you send a person to a dojo that they love, they will always be thankful for it.

JMAC 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, and the Law Office of Nicklaus Suino.

Tradition in Practice

What does it mean to teach "traditional" martial arts? It can mean many things, some obvious and some not so obvious. A few of the major aspects of a traditional dojo include: a verifiable lineage in a recognized historical style, a respectful atmosphere, reasonable training fees, and observance of basic formalities.

Lineage: the instructor at a traditional dojo should be able to tell you the name of his or her teacher, and to explain the line of teachers from the recognized founder of the system. This information helps to show that what is being taught has legitimate historical roots and is likely to be respected internationally. Moreover, a teacher who respects and preserves his or her traditions is probably the type of person who will pass on positive character traits to students.

Respect: respect is the foundation of long-term development in the martial arts. Students must respect the instructor, recognizing the effort and sacrifices the teacher has made to earn his or her credentials. The teacher must respect the students, recognizing their positive qualities and helping them to become stronger, more successful people.

Reasonable Fees: a martial arts school must charge training fees in order to pay the rent and utility bills, and to compensate the teacher for his or her time teaching and keeping the school running. However, our experience has shown us that a sincere instructor usually charges reasonable fees. This may be because he or she loves the art and wishes to pass it on without regard to financial gain, or because he or she wants to avoid excluding those who can't afford high fees. Whatever the reason, it is important to recognize that high training fees alone are not an indication of quality.

Formalities: bowing, saying "hai!" and referring the instructor as "Sensei" are important aspects of tradition in the dojo. Besides adding a cultural flavor to practice, these formalities create the respectful atmosphere we discussed above. They validate the teaching hierarchy that is a natural part of learning the martial arts, and help to avoid causing offense - whether between student and teacher or between student and student. A humble student who is diligent about the formalities is one whose "cup is empty," meaning that he or she is open to learning and ready to work hard to master new skills.

JMAC 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, and the Law Office of Nicklaus Suino.

Power of the Positive

In our martial arts training lives, whether we study aikido, karate, kendo, or some other martial art, we must learn to use the power of the positive. This means that whenever there is a choice about how to act at the Japanese Martial Arts Center, we should choose the positive action: when teaching, when preparing to demonstrate or compete, and when communicating with others in the dojo.

Teaching: Studies of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) have shown that the subconscious mind absorbs information however it is presented. Thus, if a teacher says "don't do it this way," the student may remember the error better than the correct method. However, if a teacher says "do it this way," and demonstrates the correct method, chances are good that the student will remember the proper way to do the technique, whether the technique is found in jujutsu (jujitsu), judo, or iaido.

This doesn't mean that a teacher should never point out student errors. It does suggest, however, that advice should be presented in positive terms whenever possible. This approach will help to maximize the student's exposure to correct examples, and make the whole experience of learning martial arts more enjoyable.

Preparing for Demonstrations or Tournaments: Adrenaline is one of the biggest obstacles to success in demonstrations, tournaments, or tests. Overcome by nerves, many of us begin to focus more on what not to do than on what we should do. Once the mind starts repeating "don't screw up, don't screw up," the most prominent mental image we end up with is one of screwing up.

A better approach is to mentally rehearse the performance, visualizing ourselves executing each technique correctly, and imagining the satisfied feeling we will have once the routine is completed. Having mentally rehearsed our performance successfully many times before actually stepping onto the mat, we are much more likely to do well.

Communicating with Others: Our dojo in Ann Arbor is a place of learning, not a place of perfection. Because we are learning the martial arts, we have to make ourselves vulnerable. Encouragement, therefore, is the order of the day. It is not necessary to speak falsely in order to encourage others, however. The truth is that every student who puts forth effort is worthy of praise, and an alert instructor or fellow student can always spot opportunities for praise.

"Kengaku" means "visual study" in Japanese. It has a two aspects: (1) to spot mistakes made by others in order to avoid them; and (2) to spot the areas where others excel, and to try to emulate them. The second aspect has unlimited potential to make us better!
JMAC 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, and the Law Office of Nicklaus Suino.