Did You Read the Fine Print?

Thirty five years ago when I first started training, usually the physically strong took up martial arts and only the elite got their Black Belts.  Now martial arts is for  everyone and the Black Belt is given to the strong-hearted not necessarily the physically strong.  Everybody comes in all shapes and sizes and there are various levels of physical ability so a grading should not be based purely on ability, it’s the 'ability to try' because this is the one thing we all have in common.  If we stuck to the ‘survival of the fittest’ concept, the martial arts would not be where they are today.  Trying is about dedication, persistence, passion, contribution, self discipline, self confidence, improvement.  Just about any martial arts brochure, you pick up, will advertise that.  I have never seen any ad which says you must fight for your belt, compete in tournaments etc.  Maybe it’s in fine print somewhere.  I dare any school owner to put that in large print? 

Anybody who walks in the school has various reasons for wanting to take up the martial arts; it’s not up to the Instructors to give them reasons.  Martial arts were not intended for competition, although tournaments do have their place in the sporting world and there are students who thrive on them.  I'm qualified to talk on this subject with my long and successful tournament history in case anybody is wondering.  Instructors need to be aware they do not develop an environment where students have to prove themselves.  Also, tournaments should not be a prerequisite for promotion because this is not a true represention of every student in the school. 

A competitive culture in the school promotes only one way of thinking when sparring/wrestlling ie ‘to win’.   Nobody learns anything from that.  Benny ‘the Jet’ Urquidez (the greatest kickboxer of all times) will never allow any student of his to make anything harder than touch contact when sparring in his classes.  The same goes for wrestling.  It’s about respecting the art, teachers and one another.  Helio Gracie was able to wrestle up to the age of 95.  John Will says, train smart, not hard.  Do I need to go on?

The more knowledge you have, the less your ego.