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Respect and Discipline



Much has been said and written about respect and discipline. Apart from brushing up these notions, sometimes it is necessary to provide an interpretation in view of the current state of affairs.


There are club members chatting and wearing jewelry during training as a matter of course, ignoring any criticism, and arrogating to themselves one higher grade after the other which will eventually be confirmed in so called examinations where ranks are given away like freebies. And the same people will utter their indignation at the first signs of physical toughness or other close encounters with reality.


There are examiners who award ranks according to criteria which have little relation to skills. They adopt a laisser-faire attitude to everything which, when uncovered, might disturb the illusion of a perfect club life. They drape people with new belts who would have long been removed from genuine dojos, and they even do not refrain from appointing them as instructors.


The club is estranged from its proper role and has become a tool for organising prestigious events at the expense of hundreds of practioners. Of course, the bulk of misguided people, when reduced to their sheer number, makes as much a boastful as an influential statistics. 


A holiday camp mentality has spread.


And yet, there is a real dojo within the *** club. This dojo has no special documents, no exterior badges, and no separate events. It merely exists within the behaviour and the minds of its members. It is a minority of martial artists intermingled with the bulk of martial fun sport athletes.


What does all this mean for the budoka regarding respect and discipline? 


One the one hand, what has always been held true, for example the respect for certain ideas, for values, for genuine grandmasters, and in general for everyone seriously practising a martial art. Then there is the discipline to train perseveringly and to behave properly inside and outside the dojo.


On the other hand, several avoidance aspects have to be added. There is the discipline and self-restraint not to float with the current and have oneself tempted by overrated crowds to phoney feelings of success. There is the strength to be honest, not to show reverence for budo belt impostors, and not to be loyal to formal authorities bartering their credibility for popularity and connections.


If one cannot change an undesirable condition on short notice, one should at least avoid to support it. Thus everyone has to deliberate whether to engage himself in such an environment. The serious martial artist has to avoid being drawn into a hypocritical illusory world. He has to accumulate substance and speak up, for himself and as a role model for others.

 2003 TDI