Why We Do…

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world. Work without love is slavery."
Mother Theresa

The dichotomy of my work is that I teach people, if necessary to protect themselves, to hurt others in doing so. It is truly unfortunate that the need for the line of work I am in exists. I wish that it could only be for leisure, health, fun and sport but alas, the world we live in has dictated otherwise. I wish that I could stick to the other elements of my work but something inside of me burns and I have chosen the enhancement of survivability as my primary path. At the risk of opening myself up to criticism, ridicule and mockery, I honestly do what I do because I care.

Are we driven by money? No, but money helps us continue our work. Without it, we couldn't provide the information, the instruction, the materials we provide. Is money the primary concern? No, if it was, I would be doing something else that was much more financially rewarding or I would have succumbed to the demands of franchises and easy certifications.

Are we driven by ego? No. Although this industry promotes gurus and masters, cult mentalities and hierarchies, I believe that we are but guides. What we do isn't anymore special than the work a garbage man does, your math teacher did/does, the firemen do or any other endeavor. There is honor in all work as long as the work is honest and done well. Without the garbage collectors, we'd be swimming in our own filth. Did your math teacher convince you that his math was the best?

Are we driven by fame? No. Fame is a non issue. Fame doesn't bring happiness or feed our children or put a roof over our heads. The quality of our work does. Do we care to have a good reputation, yes, but that again is based on the quality we provide and the personal attention we give to those who seek us out.

The essence of the martial arts had much to do with peace, harmony and spirituality. Courtesy was the cornerstone of all virtues. It is this virtue that is required of any human being in order for them to maintain a peaceful co-existence with the world. Justice is also one of the martial codes that have lost its meaning. People embarked on their martial journeys to improve themselves and enhance their survivability both through the practice of self protection and the health benefits provided through the training and healthy living.

Why do you do what you do? Don't answer this question too quickly. Reflect upon it well and answer it truthfully, not with a political agenda or the expected time honored response, but with the truth. Answer it for yourself and not for anyone else to hear. Why do you do what you do?

I am reminded of Mother Theresa's words engraved on the wall of her home in Calcutta:

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway."

Religious connotations not withstanding as your beliefs are yours and mine are mine, the true essence of the martial arts is in the improvement of the self and in the aid of improving others. Therefore the existence of the system or style in question must promote their truths as truths and your reasoning behind seeking them out should be clear, concise and honest regardless of the reason whether it is for health, sport, competition, art, discipline, self defense or a combination of all. Passion is more important than the financial reward for the true reward is to be found in the help you provided through your guidance that improved and/or possibly saved someone's life. There is nothing wrong with making a good living out of it either as long as it isn't at the expense of integrity, honesty and quality.

So if what you do truthfully and honestly works for you, who is to say it is wrong? Keeping an open mind in this field is a difficult task because it is easy to shut something out that we've never even experienced as a defensive reaction to another's attack on our ways or their nay sayings. One should have the strength and courage to think for themselves but unfortunately, the martial arts industry rarely caters to such openness. Trust in oneself is important, trust in another is earned. So regardless of who says what and what guru, master, coach or teacher said about something, (myself included), and regardless of the arguments they presented for the pros and/or cons of it (logic preceding of course) seek it out for yourself and form your own opinion on it, regardless of the outcome. You'll be glad you looked for yourself because the knowledge will now be yours and not another individual's who simply imparted his filtered opinion to you.


Richard Dimitri