Recently I had an experience that made a profound impact on my martial arts journey, essentially because it made me want to continue my martial arts journey.
You see, in the past few years, I had contemplated retiring from martial arts. Not because of age. Not because I didn’t still love it with an almost unhealthy passion, but because I got too caught up in the politics of martial arts. I wasn’t seeing the reverence that a student was supposed to hold for their Sensei. I wasn’t seeing the mutual respect between instructors. I started seeing a sense of entitlement from students, from parents, from instructors. I no longer saw honor and respect, which where the two things that appealed most to me in martial arts.
Maybe I expected too much.
That is, until I happened upon a local dojo as I was promoting one of my martial arts tournaments. We talked at length about competition and I had mentioned that, even at my advanced age, I still competed in sparring. He then asked if I could help him train for the World Games in Korea. I was honored and didn’t ask nor expected pay. Together we trained for the next three weeks. Once he returned from Korea, he then asked if I could teach at his school. I accepted but had told him that eventually I would leave to start my own.
It was a surreal experience. I saw instructors edifying other instructors. I saw students bow and greet their instructors as they entered the dojo. I saw unity. Most importantly, I saw honor and respect.
After teaching for a period of time, I received an opportunity to be a partner at another local dojo. It was an opportunity that I could not pass up. How do I tell him that I could no longer teach at the dojo? It was one of the hardest things I had to do. I mean, how do you tell someone who made such a profound impact in your life that you were now going to leave?
You tell him.