The Real Secret
By Kevin Seaman
What is the most important skill you need to develop in order to become a great martial artist? Kicking skills, right? Because if you have powerful, lightning fast kicks you can cut through any opponent. Wrong! What about footwork and agility? With complete command of your footwork, then, no one can touch you. You will control the distance,being able to strike out with blinding speed and effectiveness, frustrating and overwhelming your opponent at will.
No, that’s not it either! Remember, we’ve all been told if you lack conditioning everything else will go down the tubes if you get tired,.That’s it… right? Nope! Okay, Okay. Then it must be a winning attitude. No one can stop you if you have that! The mentally strong, motivated, determined fighter is the hardest to beat! It has its time and place when it’s important, as do all of the things I mentioned. You’re on the right track, but guess what the REAL SECRET is?
It’s respect! It’s consideration, and courtesy for yourself and others.
Respect for yourself means taking good care of you. Your appearance, your hygiene, your personal habits, how you eat, what you put in your body and what you do to yourself all reflect a personal respect for your body. And what about respect for yourself on a mental and emotional basis? Do you treat yourself the way you would like others to treat you?
Do you put yourself down, ignore your potential, put guilt trips on yourself, and let others manipulate, use, and/or take advantage of you? Do you then lose your temper or patience with yourself rather than being honest and assertive about your problem and solution? Being honest to yourself and others is a sign of discipline and strength. These are all issues of personal consideration and respect.
In Muay Thai, we are taught from the beginning that Wai (Respect) is a crucial part oflearning and someday perhaps mastering the ART. Since my first encounter with Thai Boxing training, I can remember these words sounding in my ears by Ajarn Chai Sirisute,“Don’t forget to be disciplined!”
Respect means showing regard for worth, the worth of others, and your environment. This includes treating your own life with value and treating others as having rights equal to yours.
Why is respect for yourself so important? It’s because people who lack respect for themselves and others also lack self-esteem, and a strong self-image. If you don’t care about “you”, how can you possibly meet or exceed your potential as a martial artist?More profoundly, how can you respect others, if you don’t respect yourself?
Ever wonder why experts when teaching others how to develop their skills in the Martial Arts stress courtesy and respect so often? Because as instructors, we want you to understand that the way you treat yourself and others is a direct representation of your attitude. We want you to respect life and use discretion as to how and when you use your skills. We want you to reflect a positive image of yourself to others, for them to trust and respect you. We know that without self respect and respect for others you will never reach excellence in the Martial Arts. We also understand that YOU are a representativeof US, and want you to realize that disrespect is a direct insult to yourself, your instructor, and their instructors. We know that without self-control, self-discipline, strong ethical standards, and courtesy and respect for others you’re a dangerous liability for yourself and others. That is why!
“He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What Can You Do To Improve?
Quite simply exercise your simple courtesies on a daily basis. Simple courtesies are FREE. They don’t cost you a thing and they are an excellent emotional investment, because of the positive impression they impose on others. Look for opportunities to sharpen your respect skills everyday. As martial artists we all realize the value of repetition. In effect repetition is the mother of skill. So if you want to improve your kicks you need to kick. If you want to improve your ground fighting, you need to practice fighting on the ground. If you wan
t to improve certain life skills, you need to practice those as well. Remember, whatever you practice you become. It will totally amaze you how you will feel and more importantly how others will feel about you.
A Simple Act
Say something to make someone feel good. Point out a positive quality you’ve noticed about them. Hold the door for someone, give a cheerful thank you or please, or help someone with a problem. A simple act like giving your seat to a senior or shoveling the snow from his or her walk can mean a lot to someone in need.
Listen to a friend; spend more time trying to be interested, instead of trying to be interesting. Listen with caring to a person with a problem, rather than searching for flaws or imperfections. Don’t try to fix what’s troubling them, by? pointing out how their problem could be solved or being judgmental. If you think about it when you judge someone else’s opinion, it really says more about your need to criticize and judge others than it does about the person you’re making assessments of. Instead respect how they must be feeling. Being compassionate and understanding someone else’s view or concern does not require you to agree with him or her, only that you respect their freedom for choice in their view.
At this TIME in our society, the cool thing to do is act tough, and disrespect is more and more common. This is a sign of disintegration of values, morals, and mental health. It is what we see in so many forms of communication, whether it is in music, movies, reality TV or the internet. This is common. As martial artists, we DO NOT want to be considered common! As true Martial Artists we strive to be uncommon, to have higher standards, and to be the best we can be!
“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” ~Clint Eastwood
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Martial Arts is one of the most amazing vehicles for self-improvement you have available to help you become a better person. One of the most important lessons our teacher, Grandmaster Chai taught us was “Be soft and smooth as SILK, and hard and strong like a DIAMOND.” Make the emotional effort to improve your courtesy skills next time you are in class. Seek excellence, train hard and remember… In life, you don’t get what you want. In life, you get what you are.
Khun Kruu Kevin Seaman has been in the martial Arts for 40 years, an instructor and Special Advisor in the TBA, and a student of Ajarn Chai since 1986. He has written 3 books, The Winning Mind Set, The Mind Game Of MMA and Jun FanGung Fu: Seeking The Path Of Jeet Kune Do. All are available in paper and digital formats.