Philosophy & Culture

Giving Back: Community Involvement through Martial Arts Schools

Giving Back Community Involvement and Charitable Donations through Martial Arts SchoolsIn my mind, martial arts schools exist to be a positive influence in the community. Instructors strive to help their students improve their fitness, become more confident, meet new people, and have fun. That is essentially the mission of our dojo.

But there is also something to be said about getting involved in the community beyond those who train at the dojo. I believe in giving back to the world however I can. Over the past 3 months, I have made it my intention to engage in some form of selfless giving every day, recording my efforts on my blog, Giv’er 365. The dojo is just one more avenue that allows me to do so. (more…)

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Meditations on Meditation: A Visit to a Zen Centre

This past Sunday, I went to the Zen Centre of Vancouver to do their introductory session to Zen. I’ve been meditating regularly for years, using more or less the same methods as they do in Zen. I recently decided that it might be┬ánice to try formal practice in a group to see what it’s like. It was an interesting experience that I’d like to share.

I rode my scooter to the Zen Centre early Sunday morning. At first, I drove past it. It was easy to miss being a house in a residential area with only a humble sign over the front door marking it for what it was (as seen here on the right before it was renovated). I rang the doorbell and was greeted by Eshin John Godfrey (shown in photo below on the left), the centre’s abbot. He is a friendly man who smiles a lot, and does a great job of making new visitors feel comfortable and welcome as I came to discover. (more…)

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Teach People, Not Just Lesson Plans

Teaching is an important vocation, not simply to pass on knowledge, but to inspire people to greatness. Teachers have the capacity to change lives, and it’s not just because they put together a good lesson plan. The best teachers are the ones that see those they teach not simply as students, but as people.

Each person has their own unique learning style, personality, and life situation. They each have different interests and passions that inspire them, as well as different hot buttons or issues that cause them to think stressful thoughts. If teachers take a genuine interest in their students not simply in terms of their training but in the context of their whole lives, they can not only help better in the class setting through greater understanding, they can also touch their lives in a more meaningful way.

I covered some of this concept in my blog post How Martial Arts Instructors Can Give More, but I feel like there is more that can be said on this topic. Here are 3 ways teachers can focus more on their students as people: (more…)

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Japanese Tea Ceremony & Its Relevance to the Martial Arts

Sado, Japanese tea ceremony, is an art that has long been associated with the martial arts. Back in feudal Japan, it was initially indulged in primarily by the nobility. It was intended to be an activity free of social and political trappings, as guests were required to enter the tea room by a 2.5 square foot crawl door, a deliberately humbling device symbolically creating a sense of equality to everyone inside. The tea room was one of the few places in which a samurai was not allowed to carry their swords, leaving them outside as they enter.

Receiving a tea ceremony with Maiko Behr (more…)

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5 Awesome Judo Videos

A martial art derived from Jiu-jitsu, Judo shows beautifully on film. Some of my favourite YouTube videos featuring martial arts are of Judo. As a bit of a lighter post today, I figured I share a few of my favourites.

This first video is a demo that was put on at a festival celebrating the sport, performed by two Olympic-level Judoka. Their core strength is awe-inspiring as they demonstrate Judo throws in slow motion (both forward and in reverse). Also LOVED the Jedi-style throwing from a distance (which can only be seen to be understood). Have a watch: (more…)

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5 Tips for Practising Detachment in a Capitalist Culture

Kanji for Mindfulness

Detachment is widely considered a psychologically and spiritually healthy practice. But for many people in Western society, it is difficult to get into the habit as we are constantly bombarded with messages of things we should accumulate in our lives, including our home, car, personal possessions, relationships, accomplishments, experiences and overall lifestyles.

Being a martial artist has helped me learn to practice detachment, which has in turn made me a better martial artist over the long term. This has also extended into other areas of my life, giving me a happier, healthier existence. Below are 5 tips that have helped me in my practice of detachment and some resulting benefits of that practice. (more…)

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What Movie Inspired You to Start Martial Arts Training?

Martial artists start their training for a variety of reasons, for fitness, self-defense, cool factor, etc. Most martial artists I know also had a particular movie that inspired them, whether it was a particular character, concept or action sequence that brought on their compulsion. I was 16 when I became inspired to take up a martial art, and it was the movie ‘Batman Returns’ that started it all with the strong, sexy, bad-ass character of Catwoman performed by Michelle Pfeiffer.

While ‘Batman Returns’ was certainly not exactly a work of film art, the portrayal of Catwoman was one of the first movies in which I saw a female character as both strong-willed and as a strong fighter. It made me want to be strong, both mentally and physically. This led me to look into what martial arts were offered locally, ultimately leading me to my 20-year love affair with Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. (more…)

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The Only Person Worth Competing Against in the Martial Arts

We live in a society that emphasizes competition. We grow up on team sports, we strive to get the best marks in school to win scholarships over other applicants. In the career world, people compete for the best jobs, promotions, professional awards, even the respect of our colleagues. On the home front, people compete by comparing themselves to others, by trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” in terms of their homes and lifestyles, but also in terms of their spouses and children. (more…)

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The Tao of Saying Goodbye – Part 2: Tips for Martial Arts Instructors

Last week, I offered tips for martial arts students on saying goodbye respectfully if they decide to quit or take a break from their training. Instructors, on the other side of the equation, have an even greater responsibility for responding well to students leaving. The way I look at it, martial arts instructors are leaders in the community. We should hold ourselves to the highest standards in our personal relationships, even under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Tips for Saying Goodbye as a Martial Arts Instructor

There are no two ways about it; saying goodbye to students is tough, and the longer the student has been with you, the harder it is. While the financial aspect can be a factor, more often than not, it is the personal relationship you’ve developed that makes it hard.┬áHere are some tips for easing the process for both you and your students: (more…)

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The Tao of Saying Goodbye – Part 1: Tips for Martial Arts Students

Dojo owners/instructors always hope that each new student that walks in the door will fall in love with their school and its martial arts classes and stay with them for years, even decades. Good instructors pour their hearts into what they do and want to see their students receive all the benefits of martial arts training they have come to appreciate over the years. Realistically though, this kind of long term commitment is rare, and even if students are committed, there will be times when life leads them to take breaks. Senseis must learn to accept this inevitability and be able to say goodbye with respect and grace. It’s not necessarily easy for them though, especially if the student has been with them a while, so there are things students can do to help the process.


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