Sunday, November 18, 2012

Integrity in the Martial Arts - Being You

Integrity, according to Oxford dictionary is: 

1) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

2) the state of being whole and undivided

     Looking at the first definition, why would a martial artist, more than someone else, need to have strong moral principles and be honest.  

     As the the need for strong moral principles, a martial artist develops a high degree of physical power, in particular, over other humans, by the judicious use of violence for protection, or, if they lack principles, aggression. As an example, one of my instructors created an association of self defense that a decade ago took the violent segments of our population by storm.  This instructor just happened to be a prosecutor of people who had killed or harmed police officers.  He told us that he met a person in court who had been convicted of killing a police officer, and the guy recognized him.  How did he recognize him your ask?  From videos and books he had made about his art of self defense.  He, by commercial extension, and had trained a criminal in the very form of violence that he had used to attack citizens and police.  How would that make you feel, if you were the one that unleashed that on the world?

     That could be an example of a lack of moral principles, or a lack of integrity in the arts if not corrected.  Being able to do a thing does not mean you should, even if you get paid for it.  The determination of right or wrong should control that choice.

     The same argument would extend to the actual use of the art of self defense.  If your moral principle did not include a strong sanctity for human life, then the least offense or mistake could and would result in injury or death.  I have met many practitioners of one art or another that think that the use of physical power to get their way in the world is not only practical, but primary.  Imagine if we lived in a world where you created a society that acted on the principle of "might makes right."

      As for honesty, or telling the truth, this is a requirement in any physical or mental endeavor of worth.  You need to know what the truth is about your readiness and ability, or you can not improve.  Ignorance or lack of humility will not not increase your art, but rather terminate your growth and influence over yourself and those who depend and rely on you.

     And finally, as to being consistent or whole in your thoughts words and actions, this is probably the most often mentioned and the least often practiced part of integrity.  Each of us are challenged by ego, stress, money, love, self image and more many times a day.  If we segmented part of our life as different, say Church is Church or Business is Business, then we would be different people in every circumstance we face every day.  No one could trust our actions or rely on us, not matter what we said be believed.  We need to walk our walk and talk our talk everywhere in our lives, and we need to be the same person everywhere.  Take down the walls, and be who you are.

Integrity is one of the foundation points of a Black Belt.  Without it, you have nothing.  With it, you have nothing but potential.

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