For me, Martial Arts is not just a hobby, it is a way of life. I started my training when I was eight years old, and it took me until I was a teenager to fully understand all that the Martial Arts has to offer. Yes, Martial Arts teaches you how to protect and defend yourself, but it also teaches you the focus and mindset to perform well in school, and how to set goals.
Believe it or not I am still in school, but I would not be without the Martial Arts. The discipline and determination we learn and utilize in the dojo has helped me stay focused with my studies. Think of studying for school like practicing your requirements. You do the move for numerous repetitions, but not every time is easy. There is struggle, frustration, and emotion involved, but you stick with it, and eventually learn the move and get your mark or stripe. Just think of those marks and stripes as the grades you get in school. You may not like the journey, but you like the end result.
Going back to earlier, the Martial Arts does indeed help you set goals. I had a goal when I first started training, and that goal was to earn my black belt. I earned my black belt back in December 2005, and later earned my second degree black belt in 2009. Those black belts however were in Kung Fu. I do hold a black belt here at Maryland Martial Arts, and my current goal is to obtain my second degree under Sensei Jon.
I have been working on this goal for almost two years now, and I am about at the halfway point. Learning many new moves every day is no easy task, but taking those moves and using them to build off other moves is three times as challenging. This is where the determination, focus, and patience come into play. You have to stay positive, and no matter how hard it gets just stick with it. If Martial Arts were easy everyone would have a black belt.
Think of the Martial Arts as your building a house. In the beginning you learn the skills you need to build the foundation, and over time you obtain the rest of the items to finish building the house. My house is not completely built yet, but it has been a very rewarding and fun process seeing it progress over the years. I hope everyone here at the dojo earns there black belts one day, as all of you are excellent Martial Artists. I learn the most from teaching all of you.
What an accomplishment! I've been training at Maryland Martial Arts since 2008 with one goal in mind since day one, which is student creed number four, "I intend to earn my black belt." The funny thing is that this goal never left my mind but so much has changed along the way. In the beginning I so badly wanted to be a black belt, and nothing else was on my mind. Not until I reached late gold belt or orange belt did things start to really change for me. I soon realized that helping others made me a better martial artist. It wasn't all about me anymore. Sure, I intended to earn my black belt, but I also started thinking about helping others earn their white belt and gold belt. This is when my road to constant improvement stepped into overdrive.
Around this time, I changed my diet and started to eat only healthy food that would help me get better at martial arts. When I say better at martial arts, I don't mean just punching and kicking. I mean better at living the martial arts lifestyle..Helping others, avoiding overly negative temptations, etc. And what do you know, this is student creed number one. "I intend to develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health." Well, it works. Stay positive and stay healthy for yourself, your friends, your family and the people around you that feed off of your positive vibes. This also correlates very nicely with student creed number two.. "I intend to develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others." Through instructing, I've learned that not only what I say matters, but what I DO matters equally. People look up to me. They see me winning tournaments, blasting thru the ab-buster, challenging me to push up competitions. Everyone wants to spar me because I have great control and can spar at anyone's pace and skill level. This takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline and the ability to practice what I preach. With my personal growth and positive attitude, everyone that trains with me gets to experience this on some level and that's what is most important to me.
It's funny how goals change. I remember Sensei Jon's blog about goal setting. Should we set goals? I'm not really sure, but I do know that our goals are constantly changing. My first goal was to receive my black belt. My goals changed drastically while training, but in the end, I still reached that ultimate goal and now that I've received my black belt, everything begins for me. It was all about the journey, and now I get to pass this journey onto others.
I intend to earn my second degree black belt. When it happens, does not matter, only that it happens.
The last thing I'm going to leave you with is my best piece of advice. Giving to yourself is not selfish as long as you are helping others with your decision.
WOW! Three years have come and gone extremely quickly. As many of you may know, I started Law School about one year after Maryland Martial Arts opened its doors. It was a challenging experience, a test if you will- A test which has pushed me beyond my limits. I have been a law school graduate for a little more than 48 hours – and a part of me still cannot believe it! These past three years have been filled with sleepless nights, thousands of pages of reading, cold calling in class, and dozens of wild exams. Yet, it has also been a time of growing, a time of learning, a time of taking responsibility and a time of taking the reigns on my own future.
I am writing this blog because most of our students in the dojo are also students in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college and post-graduate programs. Each and every single student is a bright, talented and special individual inside of the dojo and beyond. I personally want to congratulate each and every single one of you because by implementing a martial arts lifestyle, you are building a strong foundation to be successful in YOUR education, YOUR future, and YOUR life.
Martial Arts have made me a serious academic student. I started training the martial arts at age 11, like many of our own students, to get an edge in school- and it worked! The parallels between the dojo and the classroom are virtually seamless. Learning complex techniques and strategies in the dojo setting gave me the focus to plow through complex concepts in school. By nailing techniques I never thought I could accomplish, I gained the confidence to write lengthy papers and solve problems head on. By realizing that everyone, no matter their belt rank or age, has something to teach me, I have learned humility, which has kept my mind open to new ideas in my education. Further, it gave me the self-discipline to study hard while others might be indulging in more (at first) appealing activities. Perhaps most importantly, martial arts have taught me balance so that I can manage my time carefully to study, train, work, and have family/friend time. This is of course a non-exhaustive list! These principles have guided me from grade school all the way through law school. It does not matter whether you want to be a writer, singer, doctor, business person, chef, an engineer, a hairstylist, a martial arts instructor or even a lawyer- by being the martial artists that YOU are, you are plowing a positive path towards YOUR future. And for this I congratulate you!
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Maryland Martial Arts family for all the support and encouragement during these three years. Good luck on finishing up your school year and best wishes for the 2012-13 school year!
When Sempai Greg asked me to consider writing a guest blog I immediately said “Yes.” Not only was it
a complement to me, I saw it as a “duty” because my teacher had asked me to do something. I guess
that’s just the Navy Chief in me…always do what is asked of you to the best of your ability. In the Navy,
we had “Core Values” which we strived to live by…”Honor, Courage, and Commitment.” I tried to live by
them every day and to teach them to those that were junior to me. You see, as a Chief, I was responsible
to train, motivate, and care for those of lower rank than me. I see a similar pattern in martial arts and
especially at our dojo.
Anyone entering the dojo can’t help but see the Maryland Martial Arts sign which in essence
incorporates our “Core Values”…”Focus, Discipline, and Respect.” Sempai Greg discussed them in his
recent blog as well. In our world today, maybe more than ever before, it’s important to know what
you’re about, and what those that are around you are about as well. As students at the dojo we become
a type of family. We have trusted leaders who teach and mentor us, and who truly care about what
is best for us. We also have a fabulous student fellowship who also cares about one-another and who
supports each other as we train, progress, and grow.
Focus, discipline, and respect are so much more than words. They are a code to live by that improves
the lives of individuals and the group as a whole. By focusing on these values, we grow into the type
of person that we would like to be. We learn to set goals, we live up to the high standards that are set
by ourselves, our parents or partners, and by our trusted instructors. We also learn that “With privilege
comes responsibility.” Advancing in our belts is a privilege, and we must be ready to accept not only
increased status or prestige, we must also maintain a posture of modesty and humility. Our dojo honors
the respect of all towards one-another. With the PRIVILEGE of advancing to a new belt rank, comes the
RESPONSIBILITY to help others learn and grow as well. As we grow in our own skills and confidence,
we must pass on our knowledge to those of lower rank. The concept is one of unity, of caring for each
other, and for the group as a whole.
Accepting and embracing our core values gives us a code to live by. We learn that our privilege and
responsibility span much farther than our friends, classmates, and our school. For example, having
the privilege to own a pet means having the responsibility to care for the pet. Having the privilege
of taking karate lessons means having the responsibility to work hard and try our best in every class
that we participate in. And much more than this, we begin to see that the concept of “privilege and
responsibility” expands far beyond our immediate lives. Having the privilege of living in the freedom
of our country means having the responsibility to live the best lives that we can. We learn to care for
others less fortunate than ourselves, to have concern for our community, our nation, and our world. We
are martial artists, and we are so much more! When we take a moment to reflect on all that we are and
that we have, we see that we are privileged people and thus, we have much responsibility for ourselves,
our family, our community, and our world!
I started my training in the Adult class at Maryland Martial Arts in 2008 and it has taken me down this amazing journey of self awareness and self discipline. I have noticed that Martial Arts has encompassed my entire life. I am not only a Martial Artist, but I am a portrait artist too. My portraits are called "Pointed Portraits" are done one dot at a time using a style called Pointillism. You might be asking yourself, "how does this relate to martial arts?" Well, it's pretty simple. Focus, Confidence and Discipline.
Let me explain further:
Focus - Believe it or not, anyone can draw a portrait, with enough focus. Think about your Kata as a portrait. It takes many steps to get to the end of the Kata, and you don't learn it all at once. The entire Kata consists of many intricate pieces and you must focus on each one individually until it forms a larger piece. Portraits work the same way, especially Pointed Portraits. With practice and focus, your portraits will get better and better, just like mine did. The same goes for Martial Arts.
Confidence - As I said before, anyone can draw a portrait, but most people say, "Oh no, I am horrible at drawing." Well, you're not. Think about something you are great at. Were you always great at that or did you have to work at it to become great? Did you learn to walk before you were crawling? The truth is, I was embarrassed of my portraits at first. I didn't think they were good enough to show anyone else, but after practice, practice, practice, everyone wants one of my portraits. The more you work hard at something, the more confident you will become. This is something that I've always known, but now I truly feel it. Martial Arts has greatly improved my confidence and it shows through my portraits.
Discipline - Discipline is not something that comes naturally to all, but don't worry, as your focus and confidence builds, so does your self-discipline. Just look at our black belt students! When it comes to pointed portraits, discipline is extremely important. First of all, how could I do anything if I wasn't healthy? If I was unhealthy, then I wouldn't be able to do the things that I love doing including portraits. I was pretty healthy when I first started Martial Arts, but I'm even more healthy now, and Martial Arts is what gave me that kick to improve my health. As for portraits - they are a long process. Some of my portraits take over 100 hours!!! I must have discipline to finish each and every one.
So what's the point? The point is, Martial Arts isn't just about punching and kicking. Both Kids and Adults alike learn many important life lessons training at Maryland Martial Arts. It doesn't matter if you're 5 years old or 50 years old. Training at Maryland Martial Arts will improve your life as it has mine.
How has Maryland Martial Arts helped you? Please comment below!
~ Sempai Greg