I teach Aikido (a Martial Art) and I believe that the time spent in the dojo (Training Hall) needs to be time well invested and not just of use in the specific environment of Aikido. When we train we have a chance to experience many of the challenges and principles that we will meet and need in the Big Wide World and we can cultivate our ability to deal with them whilst also training in our chosen art. What follows, I believe, is as true when looked at in terms of training as it is in terms of any of our life’s challenges. So the dojo can be a place to train for life as well as Aikido!
On Rights and Responsibilities
Sometimes I feel we live in a world that thrives and relies on Rights. But, Rights are without means, they have no substance and on their own can do nothing. If one has the Right of self defence, that in itself does not protect one from an attack. The Right alone has no means. In order to exercise any right certain responsibilities have to be met. In the case of self defence some training or ability needs to be nurtured in order to be able to exercise the Right. Often I think individuals do not understand their responsibilities yet are very keen to exercise their Rights believing that it is other people’s responsibility to provide them with the means. I can not help but think this is wrong. In the dojo we all have the Right to learn and progress but this comes with the responsibility to work hard, listen and respond to instruction which is the means by which we achieve this.
On being Positive
When we are surrounded by positive individuals, those who take responsibility and make things happen it has a profound effect on us because their attitude can be contagious. The opposite is also true and negative individuals can have a very poor effect on those they mix with. Being positive is difficult, just like taking responsibility is difficult and I believe the two are linked. You see, to be negative about something is easy and requires no courage, you do not need to take any responsibility for the outcome of a situation if you say it will fail. You can only win; if it succeeds you can suggest it was lucky, if it fails then – ” I told you so”! You have no responsibility and you have no ownership – easy. However, if you are positive the game changes, if it fails you loose because you have chosen to take some ownership (responsibility) for the success of whatever it is. This is definitely not the easy option and requires courage and conviction as well as energy and of course responsibility. So relying on one’s Rights and being negative are the obvious choices if instant gratification is seen as the panacea, if rewards can be reaped without effort which is often the case in today’s world. So what can be done to make sure we develop individuals with courage and the conviction to take on responsibilities?
Ethics and Etiquette
When individuals act with ethics and conduct themselves in a manner that conforms to acceptable rules for behavior that are there to benefit all of society then they are acting in an ethical way. When individuals act polity and offer respect to others and conform to acceptable levels of behavior they are displaying good etiquette. If everyone lived an ethical life, and displayed good etiquette then I believe individuals would feel better about themselves, would feel able to take on more responsibility and would develop a more positive outlook on life; which would become contagious. The trouble is all of this takes effort, and often we find it difficult to put that extra effort in. However, I think we have a human responsibility to act in these ways even though it requires us to put in effort and to display courage. In the dojo etiquette and training in an ethical manner are high priorities and positive progression and results only come from the effort we put in. The more effort the better the results. Taking responsibility for the outcome of our actions is empowering; even failures can teach us good lessons if looked upon with a positive attitude and acted upon appropriately . So why not make the plunge and choose to be courageous, live an ethical life and take responsibility. It could even be fun. The dojo is a great place to develop and nurture these qualities while at the same time learning useful skills and keeping fit.