By Professor Don Cross, M.Ed.
Get any serious martial artist in a conversation about the values of his training and he will eventually get around to talking about character building. Whether or not he actually uses the word “character,” you will hear about self-discipline, confidence, courage: the individual personal qualities that are developed through the committed practice of martial arts training.
Unfortunately, however, these qualities tend to be a minor focus of the training for many students. To them, the more obvious goals of self-defense and obtaining fighting skills seem more practical, more useful.
But, unless the student is training to be a professional competitive fighter, or does police or other security-related work, chances are that he will seldom, if ever, need to use his fighting skill in a real life situation. So, the truly practical benefits of martial arts training are the masterful behaviors that are necessary for success not only in the martial arts, but also at school, in business, and every other endeavor.
Here at the Jujitsu-Do Martial Art Center, we strive to develop sixteen particular qualities, and look for the outward expression of these qualities in evaluating the progress of advanced students:
16 Required Qualities of a Jujitsu Black Belt
|DESIRE||Nothing worth having comes without commitment to a goal. It is essential to have goals, to express them, and to keep them in mind as motivation.|
|PERSISTENCE||Practice perseverance. Be tenacious. No matter how many times you fall, keep getting up and pursuing your goal.|
|OPTIMISM||Live life with hope, belief, and faith. Be grateful for your blessings and expect good things to happen.|
|DEPENDABILITY||Know that thought, word and action are one. Be the kind of person others can count on to do what you say you’re going to do. Be action oriented and follow through on your commitments.|
|HONESTY||Be truthful in thought, word and action. Stand up proudly for what you believe in.|
|THOUGHTFULNESS||Be caring, considerate, and sensitive to the feelings of others. Understanding and cooperation often accomplish far more than competition.|
|ENTHUSIASM||Go the extra mile in all you do. Be excited about life and all the great things you’re learning and experiencing. Play full out, both feet in.|
|HUMILITY||Recognize in the faults of others your own shortcomings. Avoid self-righteousness and excessive pride. Practice forgiveness, compassion, and giving up blame and judgment of others.|
|PRUDENCE||Exercise sound judgment in practical matters. Know your own limitations. Use common sense.|
|PATIENCE||Be calm and composed when facing difficulties. Accept things as they are, knowing that change will come in due time.|
|COURAGE||Face every challenge squarely. Face yourself, with all your faults, and pledge to be constant in your forward advance.|
|DISCIPLINE||Exercise self-control. Take responsibility for the consequences of your own actions. Be willing to sacrifice immediate pleasure for your long-term goals.|
|SELF ESTEEM||Trust your own good judgment. Believe in yourself. Use positive self talk: “I’m all right now, and getting better and better every day.”|
|DISCRIMINATION||Be clear about what is real and what is imagined, what is true and what is false. Don’t be fooled by deceptive appearances.|
|DETACHMENT||Distance yourself from that which is false, vengeful, non-productive, hurtful, and violent.|
|LOVE||Create circumstances that lead to mutual welfare and benefit to all. Be open-hearted, open-minded, generous, and receptive.|
It may seem to those who are unfamiliar with the nature and objectives of martial arts training that some of these characteristics would be counter-productive to effective self-defense. Exactly the opposite is true. Qualities like humility, thoughtfulness, and open-hearted generosity can often accomplish the goals of self-defense before a conflict begins, whereas aggression, rigid attitudes, and violent intentions can cause even the most skilled of fighters to be beaten.
The goal of martial arts training should be more than the preservation of the body and the bolstering of the ego. There is far more to be accomplished by exercising self-restraint in your actions and finding peaceful solutions to conflict with others. It takes real strength of character to let go of anger over what someone has done or said to you, and then to forgive and offer a creative way to peacefully reconcile your differences. The ancient Buddhist precept “Cause the least possible harm” is the standard of behavior by which master martial artists live. To defend oneself in any other way is contrary to the life principle, and ultimately self-defeating. As Alexander Pope once said: “Conflict should always be so managed as to remember that the only true end of it is peace.”
The approach we take at Jujitsu-Do Martial Art Center is that martial arts training is a journey of self-improvement conducted within the context of close interactions and physical confrontation with others. One learns not only effective martial art techniques, but also positive mental attitudes, masterful behavior, effective communication skills, advanced methods of non-violent conflict resolution, and a healthy perspective about life. Danzan Ryu Jujitsu is truly a balanced approach to physical, mental and emotional health.