A higher standard of behaviour
Anybody who has been in the martial arts community for a while will know of the toxic culture that exists. We don't like it when people publically put other down. So why do we do it? We often look at the positive aspects regarding martial arts. But let's look at the negative aspects and are we're guilty in any way? The martial arts community is not different from any other and nobody is perfect. Let's take a step back and be a better person.
The toxic culture
This isn't a problem in every school, but it does exist and sooner of later you will experience it. This normally involves airing dirty laundry in public, discrimination, dirty tricks and bullying. One example is giving the thumbs down on people's Youtube videos and writing negative comments. It happens a lot in Taiji communities and I'm sure other styles get this too. If i'm not doing it properly, please send me a polite message to enlighten me. People spend a lot of time and effort making videos and we don't deserve this treatment. However, if the forms that you do are indeed better, then please make a video for us to critique or show us how it should be done. I believe a lot of people have been a victim of toxic culture in martial arts, including myself. What can we do? Well, we must rise about it and move on. At the end of the day, your conduct and your karma are linked.
Good sensei, bad sensei
There are good teachers and there are bad teachers. This isn't always obvious, but that what seems bad isn't always so. That which seems good, isn't. Let's look at the television series Cobra Kai, which spun off from the original Karate Kid franchise. Karate Kid was different in the sense that it was the first production in the West that was actually about martial arts. In the original films, Daniel Larusso (the Karate Kid) was portrayed as the underdog and the good guy. Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai was portrayed as the bad guy. However, in the Cobra Kai series, we see a different side of each character. Johnny decides to open up his old dojo, but Daniel didn't like it. So he started teaching himself and launched Miyagi-Do, his own dojo. They get competitive and Daniel put a lot of effort to stop Cobra Kai. Don't get me wrong, Daniel is not a bad person, but his actions leaves a lot to be desired. The two do have common ground and could be good friends. Is Johnny a bad person? No, not really as he has limits as to what is acceptable. Daniel could not accept that Johnny has changed and has tried to move on. Johnny's Cobra Kai is not like that of his own sensei. There is always a yin-yang aspect in our personalities. Good people can do bad things and bad people have good points. You might not notice, but part of who you become is down to your teacher's influence. But remember, everybody has their own biases.
Be original, be genuine
Being original is difficult when the art has been around for so long. However, what you do should be a reflection your own personal style. It is fine to learn from others, but it is important to give credit to people you've learned from. If you've created your own form, few will believe you if you claimed to have created it from scratch. That's why you should have your own style and approach, which differentiates you from others. What isn't acceptable is plagiarism, where your own writing and concepts are copied without any form of credit or permission. You should always be yourself, because people will find out, so try to be genuine.
These are values we should all understand and as teachers, we should encourage good behaviour in our students. Good behaviour reflects positively on your school. As an individual, if you should try and hold your behaviour to a higher standard. This should be part of your training, which never lies.
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I previously have written a blog on this subject, but it has gone missing during data migration, hence I have re-written it with new material.
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