I heard this quote recently and thought about how very relevant it was to the martial arts. It is, of course, relevant in all spheres of life, but as a martial artist, it’s hard not to see the many ways it applies to what we do. Here are a few of the ways I thought about:
Sharpening Your Sword
In Jiu-jitsu, we train in a variety of different skills, including hand strikes, kicks, throws/takedowns, breakfalls, ground techniques, and more. Over time, students start to discover that they have more of an affinity for certain spheres of training, while observing more challenges in others. While it’s good to make the most of your natural talents, it’s equally important not to ignore one’s weaknesses. From a self-defense point of view, weaknesses can bite you in the ass. As with the metaphor, your sword is useless if you leave gaps when you sharpen it. If you don’t fully explore your weaker areas, you won’t learn how best to compensate for them. And with time, they may not even be weaknesses that require compensation. This attitude also transfers into other areas in life, work, relationships, hobbies, etc. When you adopt this mentality in one thing, it tends to affect other things you do and vice versa.
Your Inner Dialogue
We all have different forms of self-talk that we use as we go about our lives. People who are confident tend to use positive self-talk, empowering themselves to do their best and reassuring themselves when they face challenges. People who are anxious are more likely to use negative self-talk in which they confirm their lacks, anticipate their failures and berate their “pitiful” efforts. The way you engage in self-talk for anything tends to creep up in everything. That’s why it’s so important to maintain the habit of positive self-talk or work toward it as a habit. The good news is that even if you have a habit of engaging in negative self-talk, if you find one thing that you can build a more positive inner dialogue with, whether it’s a martial art or any other activity, it can empower your self-talk in all areas. Because it feels so much better, it just naturally starts to help you build confidence, replacing the negative self-talk in other spheres of your life. Conversely, negative self-talk can be toxic, so it’s important rewrite it when it creeps up so it doesn’t become a habit.
Your Physical Surroundings
Ever notice that when your physical environment is messy, you don’t feel as good mentally? I feel this transfers quite directly into the dojo. I always make a point of keeping it clean, neat, and tidy. The students help with this by placing training equipment back in its proper places after use, by helping clean the mats, by throwing out their trash/recycling, etc. I also make sure our change rooms, receiving area, washrooms, etc, are always clean too. The dojo is a positive, inviting, transformative place, and the environment should always reflect that. I believe that if the leadership of a dojo values their students and the opportunity to share their art, they’ll treat the place in which they teach similarly, as will their students. And if one is finding the dojo’s physical environment starting to slip, it should be taken seriously and actively addressed, especially by the dojo’s leadership.
How you do anything is how you do everything. It works on so many levels, but the main idea is that you have a general baseline of how you approach all the things in your life. If you start to take on a more negative approach in one thing, everything else starts to slip too. If you take a more positive approach in one thing, it tends to bring everything else up. I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface in this blog post. How do you find this quote applies in your martial arts training and/or life? Please share your thoughts in the comments.