One: Respect silence
People say a martial art teaches discipline. Well, the root word of discipline is ‘disciple.’ Thus the disciple should quieten the mind, avoid needless chatter in the dojo, and be present.
Two: Give Back
The training you are receiving is a gift of your instructor’s time. The fees that you pay? Only covers expenses. To show gratitude donate your own time back to the organisation training you. Volunteer to organise socials, clean the dojo, help beginning students, or bring new students to classes.
Three: Take control of yourself
If you just wanted to get fit, go to a fitness program and squeeze into spandex. No, you joined martial arts for more than that. So consider how you look in that crumpled, smelly uniform. Or how it appears when you come to class just in the nick of time? Or how you’ll perform without putting in much preparation for your next grading. To be an exemplary student you need to take control of those issues which are your responsibility.
Four: Keep a training journal
What have you learned this week? What feedback have you received? If you felt great whilst training, what was the last meal you ate? What do you have to practice this week? What requirements are needed for your next grade? What tactics are you going to use to beat your training opponent? What special skills or tactics do you see senior students using that you would like to learn? The questions you ask show the progress you are making. So start writing them down.
Five: Read the classics
Musashi. Funakoshi. Von Clausewitz. Motobu. Sun Tzu. Draeger. Who are these people? What do they know? And why is it so important for you to understand their thinking? You’ll never know until you start to find out.
Six: Return to basics
The basics are where you find devastating power in most hard style systems. The only way to receive the lessons basic techniques have to offer is to use them. Vary them. Depend on them. And make them yours.
Seven: Look at the details
Most amateurs see only the end of the technique. If it’s a punch, they see the fist. If it’s a kick, they see the foot. But much of power generation comes from what the body does way before the strike lands on the target. Seeing the stance, the connection with the ground, and body shifting means you are ready to understand the lessons in store for you. Remember, the striking tool is only the end manifestation of the entire setup!
Eight: Train wisely
If Funakoshi sensei is the Founder of Karate in Japan, Itosu would be its Grandfather. According to Itosu’s Dojo Kun or Training Hall Annotations, he advices “One must not overtrain … Train wisely.” Warm up slowly, then stretch when your muscles are warm, and cool down. Keep your training schedule balanced and ensure you rest adequately after difficult sessions. Martial arts is about reaching your full potential. You don’t don a cape and get to fly. Be pragmatic and you should enjoy a lifetime on the path.
Nine: Indomitable spirit
The student practitioner who is building indomitable spirit is generous with time, courteous with words, nurturing with thought and protects his or her own virtues from the assail of modern day living. Bring your training into your life and live a life you can be proud of.
Ten: Go the distance
Ever have the feeling that the closer you get, the further things seem to be? This is part of the journey. You need to recognise that it is not the destination, but the striving which counts. On your way, you’ll have to learn your lessons, then you’ll have to vary them, and then you have to go beyond them. Stick with it – a warrior never gives up that easily.