I get potential students coming into the club who don’t really seem to be interested in the martial art as a whole. They would prefer to pick and choose what they will and won’t do in a class. “Do I have to wear a dobok (training outfit)?”, “I don’t like sparring so can I sit that out?”, “I don’t believe in doing patterns, I’m not here for that.”, “I only want to learn the kicks”, “I don’t like the hierarchy”, etc. My question to these people is this – Why are you considering doing a traditional martial art? When it comes to following the rules, traditions and syllabus of my martial art, I am unbending with my students. If a student is so against a particular aspect of the art then he should look elsewhere for something that is more suitable to his belief or lifestyle. If a student wants to train at my club, then it is done my way. No compromise!
How can a student think that they will be complete in their chosen art if they are only willing to do portions of what is necessary or required? One of the reasons so many people consider taking up a martial art is because of the structure and discipline that it instills. I’ve heard a beginner student say that he wants the discipline of the art, and in the next sentence tell me he doesn’t want to wear a dobok, won’t do patterns and will probably arrive late for classes. So where’s the discipline?
As a student, when it comes to choosing a martial art make sure you are looking in the right place. If you just want to get fit, why not try a cardio-kickboxing, boxercise or aerobics class? If you don’t want to do patterns, look at kickboxing. If you want to high five each other, swear and call your “coach” by first name, check out MMA. Don’t go to a traditional martial arts class and ask for special exceptions.
The fact is: traditional martial arts are for people looking for more than just getting fit. Traditional arts are for people looking for more than just a sport. Traditional arts are not for people who are looking for short term physical benefits and glory. Traditional arts are for people looking to train their bodies and minds for the long term. Traditional martial arts are a “lifestyle” choice, not an immediate gratification fix.
In order to reap the full benefits of the martial arts a person must practice it in its entirety.
Besides becoming a fighting force to be reckoned with, through training a student will also become disciplined, fit – physically and mentally, confident, courteous, honorable, loyal and self-controlled (to name but a few).
Unfortunately, in this day and age many martial arts instructors are willing to bend the rules. They compromise with students in order to try and please everybody. This is a futile effort – it is impossible to please everybody! In the long term the integrity of the art is damaged irrevocably and what used to be structured, powerful and beautiful is just a putrid mess. Traditional martial arts instructors should stick to what they do and not bend to outside pressures. I believe that if a student asks you to compromise on your art, then that person is not supposed to be there. If they want to come in and rock the boat, they are best thrown overboard and left to drown.