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20151017_150732We, you, and me as martial artists are cheap penny pinchers; we wear our training clothes till they are threadbare. Carry ratty old gym bags and won’t drop twenty bucks to attend a class or seminar thirty minutes from our homes.

Why is this? We talk about the brotherhood of the arts yet get so wound up in our lives that we forget the community that supports us. We are creatures of habit and for the most part don’t want change. Change and stepping out of our comfort zone scares us. Someone might see we are not the almighty 25th level black belt we claim to be. Our stances are piss-poor and that front kick can’t even reach the opponents knees. So what, if you want to get better get off the couch, build a network of training friends and spend the twenty bucks to go learn something. You’re going to drop twenty bucks on beer and pizza anyway.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have attended or hosted training classes for twenty or even ten dollars solely for the benefit of brining more artists together and to learn. The $10 pays for the room and gas for the instructor; nobody makes money on these events. I get lip service of sounds great, yes I’ll be there and bring three guys; no shows abound. Never a word that they won’t be attending once the commitment is made, never a word to ask how the class went, and never an interest as to what was learned. Ignored deniability, if they pretend they never broke their commitment then nothing’s wrong.

The event hosts don’t expect overwhelming masses of people to attend and everyone realizes life gets in the way. But what is hard to fathom is these same people gripe and complain that they can’t find anyone to train with. Can’t move up the ladder to become an instructor or gain some of the recognition they crave. Here’s the truth for all those complaints; the leaders of the arts are the ones who got off the couch, went to class, build a peer group, trained hard, and shared what they learned with others. They were hungry for their art and fed it with commitment.

So the next time some training opportunity comes your way, realistically decide, will I be attending and do everyone a favor and keep your commitment.

Does this make me the grumpy old man because I seem to be on a rant? Maybe, but how about we look at the commitment issue from a different perspective. Martial art schools like mantras; Respect others, Be a good citizen, Take care of others all fall into the realm of what we like to think we stand for. We teach this to our children students and we speak about this to our adult students. Are we really living by these mantras? Difficult question to answer for yourself but if you envision how others see us would we measure up?

The painful answer is probably not. Our vision of who we are is skewed by the little voice that lives in our heads and lets us rationalize our decisions. I know I have areas in which I must become better and freely admit these shortcomings. The little voice in my head argues with my need to improve and sometimes it wins, other times it doesn’t.  And in retrospect I like the little voice trying to be beat me down, it gives me something to focus on and that focus is how I improve.