I talked in my previous blog post about the equal acceptance and inclusion of everyone stepping into a place of training whatever their outward appearance. I touched briefly on how this is what defines the martial code in the context of a dojo or martial arts gym and I want to cover this in a bit greater detail now.
Your age, (these days) gender, nationality doesn’t matter. None of this stops you from becoming a part of the martial family. I’ve known every type of person under the sun in that context. From confident city big wigs and intellectuals, to nervous students. Everyone is accepted. Everyone gets to feel they belong in a way that they might not in their day to day life.
This is all true, provided you respect the code.
The code is founded upon the principle of mutual respect and committed devotion to the craft. You will never be respected as a martial artist or indeed as a person if you do not abide by this. That is what separates thugs from skilled practitioners and even a person who has been studying martial arts for years can be classified as a thug if they don’t stick to the code.
In martial arts, in training, you compete with yourself and go at your own pace. It’s a beautiful space where everyone has the chance to shine and feel a part of something great. A family. Because here it doesn’t matter what you look like, what shape you’re in. It’s all about the knowledge, the skill. The refinement comes as part of the process. Like finally getting your very own sword, then getting to sharpen and polish it. I’ve met some excellent Judo and BJJ practitioners with pot bellies. Conditioning is obviously important if you want to compete of course, even more so if you want to be the best in the world. But in terms of learning the skill, it’s all about knowledge and technique.
And that’s what you should focus on. First and foremost. I’ve seen muscle clad, fitness freak, tough guys fail miserably because they had no idea what they were doing. Couldn’t lift their legs up high enough for a simple front kick to the stomach. Couldn’t handle the high intensity of sparring rounds, were so clumsy in their footwork and defences that it was easy for me to find openings for strikes or submissions. Just as it was easy for the fat elderly bloke who had been training for a few years.
Now obviously you’re going to be naturally skilled and naturally clumsy in some areas as opposed to others. Knowing your strengths is important when preparing for a fight. When you need to be tactical not wasteful in your training. I will be covering this in a separate post.
Carrying on from my previous post, what this teaches is acceptance of everyone. It breaks down prejudices and destroys preconceptions. It gives those who are learning these skills and living within this family the confidence of belonging. I don’t know how many people have laughed straight at me when I’ve told them I was a fighter, asked me why I’d want to ruin my pretty face. Comments like these are born of ignorance. People who understand the code judge by action and adherence to the code, not by faces and smart talk.
Knowledge can beat appearance and power. Everyone has potential. Everyone is part of the pack. You earn your keep through showing respect and working hard. Most crucially by not complaining no matter how difficult things seem (I will be publishing posts soon on overcoming adversity, not showing weakness and earning respect) . Do this and you will be whole heartedly accepted into this global family. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. It’s what you do. You are the creator.