Loyalty - Integrity - Honour

Loyalty - Integrity - Honor ... the old-school martial arts ethos is built on these pillars; but what part do they play on the modern-day martial arts landscape? Much martial arts training today, is seen more as a commodity - rather than a relationship that is built over time, between student and teacher. This, in a way, is a great pity - because when it comes right down to it, the most important and valuable connections in life are made between each other.

But having said that - what I tell other instructors is this: 

As far as loyalty goes - people fall into three categories: those who are not loyal, plain and simple; at least you know where you stand with them. Then there are those who are loyal; only as long as it is convenient to be so; a kind of faux loyalty. Then there are those who are loyal; those who understand and value the relationship; these are the people who stand by you and visa versa; such people are the wind that fills our sails and carries us through storm and good weather alike. These are the people you love.

As far as integrity goes - people fall into the same three categories: those who have no integrity; what they say they will do and what they actually do are two different things. Then there are those who keep their promises, they do what they say they will do, as long as it doesn't hurt them or cost them in any way; they have integrity, only as long as it is convenient to be that way. Then there are those who live by their word; their word has value; even when inconvenient, they keep their promises, large and small alike. 

As far as honour goes - yes, you guessed it - people fall into the same three categories: those who have no honour; such people have no nobility of soul; every decision and thought they have revolves solely around their own welfare. Then there are those that live and act honourably, only as long as it is convenient to do so; such people act nobly, only as long as someone else is watching; only as long as there is a pay-off. Then there are those select group of people who love honourably because it somehow defines who they are as a person; they have a certain nobility of the soul that makes the world a better place for having them living in it. 

Each of us has a short time on this earth and in this thing we called life. Striving to live in a way that embodies these ideals - living loyally, with integrity and with honour - is something real teachers (of all kinds) should perhaps try to instil each others. And we cannot instil in others, those things that we cannot first embody ourselves.



Anonymous said…
I agree, yet there is also the angle of where your loyalties lie. e.g. some times what is best for my family is not best for my employer or club and surely family comes first. on a larger scale loyalty to a nation causes problems for other nations and so it would be loyalty to the welfare of humanity that one should pride oneself on, and if that is at the cost of loosing face at a bjj club or with an instructor so be it. sometimes the problem is the person who expects loyalty is being selfish and egotistical. bjj is a sport. bjj teachers are just coaches like a netball coach. gone are the days of overlord martial arts masters, we live in a modern democracy not feudal Japan.

when I leave a club the teacher doesn't follow me and be loyal to me, I was just a number and a source of income and if im not paying I get no loyalty, I don't expect it but I think we need to put it all in perspective. I pay for tuition just like anything else I study, should I then owe more ontop of that just because?

sometimes people need to not take it personaly and be detached and happy for people if they choose to move on. we should show virtue to one another, not because we are martial artists but because we are human. sometimes martial arts teachers get a guru complex, the gym is not a church or religion.

the majority of people train at a gym out of geographical convenience not because they have an unwavering unconditional love for there coach. loyalty goes both ways and in the case of bjj it is a student teacher relationship that revolves around a sport. not an eternal bond of marriage in service to humanity and god. even 80% of marriage doesn't last in this modern world people get the 7 year itch.

it takes 10 years to get a black belt. I think people expect to much and need to put there ego in check. and if the human friendship was really more valuable than the membership fee then be there friend even if it is not making you any money ever again. but 9999 times out of 10000 the teacher will not just call me up to hang out and catch up as a buddy. if i get a life sentence in jail will my coach come see me on the regular for the rest of my life?

so what is loyalty and where should it lie is the real thing to consider. bjj is a fun sport and i love it. if i make some genuine connections with people when i do it then good for me but i don't expect anything from any one.
JBW said…
Some good points here. Thank you for those!!
From my own pint of view (very personal) I feel that the fees my own students pay, cover the lights, the rent, the rates, and put food on the table for my family - I feel I am teaching because I love to teach. I feel that my students are not paying for the effort and heart I put into my teaching (they havnt enough money for that ... no one has) they are paying for the facilities. I teach for the love of it. That being said .. you make many a good point. JBW
Anonymous said…
please don't think that I don't value the service of a coach. I do and thats why im happy to pay money to people who can teach me things. the roll of teachers in society is one of the greatest professions. and teachers deserve to make a good living.
JBW said…
Not at all ... I appreciate your comments and opinions. Thank you! JBW
Matt Klein said…
I believe there is a "what's in it for me" mentality at work here. I could not imagine quitting my sensei's school and opening up a school across the street. Well, that is exactly what happened to me years ago. And not only that, tried to poach my only instructor at the time.

That is outright greed and disloyalty, and I think that is what John is getting at. You can forgive those people, but you can never forget them. And I do believe that what comes around, goes around.

You can spend years of your life developing a student to their utmost potential, and then to see them use everything you taught them used against you. Well...sorry, but I am with John on this one.

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