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How to think about and teach self defense

How to think about and teach self defense

If you own a martial arts school, want/intend to own one, or work in one in any capacity, I offer you this unsolicited advice and attempt at inspiration:
When you teach people your brand of martial arts, whether it originated with this country or that one, whether it was handed down by warriors or poets or housewives, whether it involves circles or lines, groundfighting or knife play, and/or is a recognized Olympic sport or airs on pay-per-view or only comes to be in the most violent of situations when you teach people what you know or think you know, youre in the business of empowering people to stretch their limits. Youre in the business of yes, I think I can. Youre in the business of cultivating health and, maybe, sanity through movement, through intentional movement, through participating with a teacher, with being a student, with collaboration, and more often than not, with a community of people who, in one way or many ways, encourages you to pursue something you dont presently have.
When you teach, you cultivate participation, re-thinking, exploration, community, belief in oneself, compassion for the struggle, and most of all, you help yourself through the art of helping others. When you teach, sometimes, youre one of just a small handful of people, may the ONLY person, who stops, looks, and listens intently to the desires and dreams of another person and that moment may be fleeting, but it can sometimes be one of those VERY important moments the kind that inspires, changes, encourages, and gets someone from where they are to where they want to be. You are, when you teach, presented with the opportunity to be a changemaker.
When you teach, sometimes, you can collect a small handful of people and sometimes it starts with just ONE person, that actually believes in you. They trust you and with that trust comes the weight of deserving, maintaining, and cultivating that trust and THAT, my friends, is when you realize you might just be (are) getting more from your students than youre giving them. What a (pleasant and humbling) surprise.
Now Im here to remind you youre not JUST a teacher of an art of war or an art passed down by this or that man or woman or an art more effective than that other art. No, youre a teacher and the people you work with require you to be a good teacher and maybe even a great teacher.
You know what a great teacher is, yes? A great teacher transcends the subject he or she teaches. Its not about art anymore, its not about architecture or design, its not about the published piece, its not about winning, losing, excelling or failing, its about life and how to live it with some sense of connection, with having met some of your potential, its about leaving something where you pass that illustrates the best we can be. Its not about you or me, its about being the kind of teacher who makes people cry tears of joy, who leaves a selfless imprint of love and compassion and caring and sacrifice and an appreciation for what it feels like to give everything you have for the benefit of others.
Being a great teacher is being very, very good at what you do, AND finding a way to make others even better and to inspire them to WANT to be better.
So, those of you this resonates with, let me further remind you (and these things are, of course, just my opinions): Dont be a teacher, only, of jiu-jitsu or tkd or judo or karate or whatever your brand is called, connect yourself to humanity, to the struggles, to the rights and wrongs, to the things that cause suffering and use your work to improveeverything youre smart enough, resourceful enough, resilient enough, compassionate enough, and connected enough to improve.
You dont just teach martial arts, youre a teacher/citizen/student. Be a great one and start now if youre not there yet, as time is short and you dont have an unlimited amount of it. Before you know it, your time to affect real change will be over.

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