Once ion a while, you may encounter someone who has the ability to push through and reach their goals without any assistance or guidance from the outside world. These people are pretty rare and are the exception to the rule, not the common theme. And even for those who go it alone, they’ve usually learned the skill or reached the goal they’ve set by learning from a source that was written, filmed, developed or provided by an another individual. If you look at it from that perspective, they’ve still gotten help from someone else. And there’s an important lesson to learn from that…
Originally, and I’m talking way back before we stood upright, humans were nomadic animals. We stopped long enough to find food, mate and bear children and move on. Eventually, as we evolved and progressed, we came to realize that certain things were easier when we stuck together. There was strength in numbers, we were safer in packs, food was easier to attain and we could maintain a better lifestyle in groups. This became the norm as humans eventually became sedentary and would seek each other out for this purpose. Although you can still find the odd individual here and there who lives completely off grid and by themselves, they’re pretty rare.
The moral of this morning’s narrative is that humans have evolved to come together to tackle common causes. And some of them are substantial enough that they would be all but impossible to learn by oneself. And this is where karate comes in. I recognize that someone, somewhere, closed their fist and used it as a weapon for the first time, although one could argue that this was likely more instinctive than anything. But for anyone who has studied karate extensively, can you imagine trying to learn that art by yourself? Sure, you could find books and videos, either online or in stores but there’s nothing that quite substitutes the presence inside the dojo.
Everyone who is in the dojo has come together for a common cause; to learn the art. Although one’s reason for wanting to learn may be different than another, that end result will always be the same. This is why it’s important to come together within the dojo and help each other out. There’s no room in a traditional dojo for egos, attitude and cheering for one person over another. The dojo environment is meant to serve as a safe space for all students to learn. The only thing worse than a McDojo (look it up, I’ve written several posts on this) is a dojo where the instructor ignores, belittles or openly ignores one of their students.
I once wrote about something referred to as the martial arts ladder. The concept is pretty simple: a student advances and progresses to a point where they can teach and pass on knowledge to another. Once the other student begins to learn and progress, they may climb that ladder and surpass the one who was helping them along. It’s important at that point to stop, turn around and assist that surpassed student in climbing higher as well. And this is how we grow, by helping each other up one rung at a time.
Last but not least, it’s important to communicate within the dojo and with your instructor. If you feel that you aren’t being treated fairly or that there is something off, you should talk about it. Although there are rules of conformity within any dojo and it’s important to show proper respect, your instructor likely can’t teach you properly if they don’t know there’s a problem. And it genuinely sucks to be training in an environment while suffering in silence. Talking about such things is not a sign of weakness but a sign of maturity; the modern dojo has no place for the disregard of a student. Food for thought… ☯️