How you carry and present yourself is important. It is in many ways a non-verbal clue that reflects your attitude. In this section we will discuss different situations and both positive and negative attitudes you should consider.
Attitudes are often initially driven by personality. In some cases students will want to quell certain aspects of their behavior in favor of more beneficial behavioral patterns. These are all conveyed to others as your attitude. You can train yourself to project a different attitude in different situations. You will want to practice projecting a variety of attitudes that you can utilize in different situations.
In the Dojo
Students should strive to always have an open and humble attitude. The goal of a student should be to learn. This requires patience, humility, and an open mind. There is little room for arrogance, dominance, or a sense of superiority. All students are expected to be courteous and respectful of one another and their instructors. Instructors are expected to treat students in the same manner.
You should come to appreciate that more junior students will watch how you act and behave. They will consider you to be someone who has become fully integrated into the Tensoku Ryu system and therefore a role model to be emulated. While there are certainly other role models in your Dojo, it should not escape your attention that you have become one as well.
We are certainly not asking you to change your personality. But we are asking that you consider your behavior and actions and how it will be viewed by others. All we ask is that you act and behave appropriately for someone of your increasing rank.
On the Street
When in public your attitude can be a major factor in whether or not you are involved in a conflict. I have known others (even instructors) who adopt an arrogant and aggressive posture in public. These people tend to be involved in fights quite often. It is not because they initiate them, necessarily. It is because others challenge them because of the attitude they exhibit.
On the other side of the equation, appearing to be meek, timid, and oblivious to your surroundings may not work well either. This may make you a target for a mugger or someone looking to bully someone else. You may find that you are having to defend yourself far too often as a result of the way you are presenting yourself to others. If you find this is happening to you, then consider what adjustments you might make to your projected attitude.
Perhaps the best attitude to convey in public is one of general confidence, awareness, and friendliness. You may not wish to appear overly confident, nor do you want to appear too friendly and trusting. Pick the middle of the road somewhere and then have some flexibility in how meek or aggressive you appear depending upon the circumstances in which you find yourself.
Of course how you present yourself will be different when you are in familiar or unfamiliar circumstances. There is likely little reason to change your behavior when you are among friends and family (unless of course, your behavior is viewed as inappropriate). But when in a public place or in unfamiliar environments you may wish to evaluate your projected attitude so that you do not inadvertently invite unneeded attention.
In a Conflict
Your attitude before and after a conflict can be quite instrumental in determining the outcome. Before a conflict begins you may want to appear confident yet willing to leave without anybody being injured. On the contrary, if you are sure your opponent will attack in any case, then perhaps appearing meek and timid may give you an edge, particularly if the attacker does not view you as a credible threat to them. You are allowing the opponent to adopt a sense of unwarranted confidence.
Once a conflict has begun, however, you will almost always want to appear to be extremely capable, competent, and confident. You want your opponent to immediately feel they have made a terrible mistake. You want to convey to them just how enormous this mistake has been. You also want them to know intuitively, that if you decide you can let them off easy, how lucky they have just become.
After a conflict has concluded you need to have a responsible attitude. You should ensure any injuries are dealt with appropriately, that authorities are called when necessary, and that others nearby will remain safe. You will also want to ensure your attitude conveys to those involved in the conflict that you will not tolerate any further hostilities. This may be done in a caring manner (“Can someone please check to insure this person is not injured. We want everyone to be safe.”) or in a more hostile manner (“Stay on the floor or there will be consequences.”). The attitude you project will of course depend on the circumstances and the behavior and attitude of those who were involved in the altercation.
In some cases the best attitude to adopt after a conflict is one of remote responsibility. Removing yourself from the conflict area may help reestablish calm. But if you go home the authorities may consider your actions to be inappropriate or suspicious. It may be in your best interest to remain in the general area and, if appropriate, call authorities. This too will likely depend on circumstances. If your assailants are known gang members who carry weapons – well, it is probably best to keep your attitude in check and not hang around.
Morals can be a cultural attribute. What is moral and widely accepted in one society may be completely amoral in another. Morals within a society are often dictated, at least in part, by the dominant religion(s) in the society.
Within Tensoku Ryu we do not consider ourselves to be a religious organization. Nor do we assert that we represent any particular society as a whole. Therefore we neither espouse nor expect our practitioners to abide by any specific overall moral code or belief system. Your morals are your morals.
There are however some Tensoku Ryu cultural norms or core principles that we expect our practitioners to follow. Here is a list for your reading pleasure.
- Avoid conflict whenever possible
- Do not harm anyone unnecessarily
- Do not kill anyone unless absolutely necessary for your survival or the survival of others
- Do not use your skills or training to bully, badger, or intimidate others
- Do not stand by as others are belittled, bullied, or assaulted if you can successfully intervene (directly or by contacting authorities)
- Be honest in encounters with others (little white lies and deceiving an opponent are exceptions)
- Remain compliant with local laws and customs
- Respect the rights and opinions of others in polite settings
- Show respect to those who have come before you in all walks of life
In addition to moral considerations you will want to contemplate the concept of virtues. This refers to how we treat one another and ourselves. Here is a brief list of virtues you will want to consider both in your martial arts training and in your everyday life’s activities.
- Respect the rights, opinions, and personage of others
- Avoid dishonesty in your interactions with others
- Put forth appropriate positive effort and attention toward tasks and objectives
- Have patience with both yourself and others
- Remain humble
- Remain loyal to those whom you respect and those who respect you
- Maintain an open and inquiring mind
- Teach those who are willing to learn
- Remain honest with yourself
Virtues can be relevant to a particular culture. Generally speaking though these are core virtues that most societies would consider normal. You may find that in your familiar circles there are other virtues that are relevant. Please add any you feel are warranted. This is not a complete list of all human virtues.
Here are a few additional rules of etiquette that students should follow:
- If possible, leave your phone ringer disabled. If you think you may need the phone for incoming emergency calls, please let your instructor know so he or she can direct your attention to your phone should it ring. Otherwise, phones represent an unnecessary distraction and should be configured so they do not disrupt class unnecessarily.
- Do not lean on walls or door ways. Stand or sit as appropriate to the situation, but avoid relying on some other structure to support yourself.
- If bleeding occurs during class immediately call it to the attention of your instructor if any blood contacts surface areas in the Dojo. You should ensure nobody tracks through or contacts the blood until it can be properly addressed by the instructor.
- Ensure you bow to any black belts when entering or leaving the Dojo. It is a matter of general respect and courtesy.
- Be sure to inform your instructor if you are experiencing any injuries or health issues that may impair your activities or movements, or that may affect others in the Dojo. Also let your instructor know before class begins if some activities are likely to cause you significant pain or increase the severity of an existing injury.
- Be sure to clean or sanitize your hands after working with others. This helps ensure that you, and others with whom you subsequently interact, are less likely to contract some contagion.
- Avoid bringing food or sticky drinks onto the training floor. You are welcome to bring drinking water in a suitable container so that you can remain hydrated.
- Help return the training room to a usable condition following your training. This might include putting away equipment, moving bags, or cleaning the area. It may also include vacuuming or sanitizing mats and equipment to help promote the safety and health of all students.
- You must begin to appreciate that you are becoming a role model for more junior students. Your behavior, attitude and Reishiki will be noticed by them. Be aware that you are responsible for promoting good martial arts manners to others.