Monday, September 22, 2008

Practicing Mastery and YOUR School

Getting a Grasp on How to Practice Mastery is One of the Best Things you Can Do for Your Martial Arts School

Call me old fashioned, but I still believe the best thing a martial arts teacher can do for his or her business is to BE the best darned martial artist he or she can be.

And note: I'm not talking about "best in your school or town good," "tournament champion good," "ring good," or get nominated to the "Universal Black Belt Grand Canyon Hall of Fame good." I'm talking about
"transcend the martial arts good." I'm talking about the kind of martial artist that Rosa Parks would give up her bus seat for; the kind of martial artist that garners grants from groups that give money to people doing amazing work in the world.

I'm talking about the kind of martial artist that doesn't let anger and hatred or other destructive kinds of thinking invade and/or infect his or her life; the kind of black belt who truly understands the -real -enemy.

Call me unrealistic, but I think all of this damned torturous tr
aining is supposed to be for something that's more important than getting fit, earning belts, and winning medals. Oh, and it's not to learn how to upgrade my students to the Grand Vital World-Famous Master's Leadrship Club, either. I haven't studied this long and hard to see it boiled down to some sales pitch for a long term course, franchise, new Corvette payment, or Rolex. Please!

I think that, if properly taught and/or directed, the serious practitioner of the martial arts ought to start making a connection between state of mind and outcome, between fear and action, between clarity and confusion, and between compassion and happiness.

It's like the Ring, Only BIGGER.

For those of you
who were competitors, do you remember the clarity that a 3-minute performance provided you with?

Whether it was a fight or a form, you trained HARD for that 3 minutes (and maybe a few others). You focused on that little bit of time and space and you fired it up!

Man, if life were only that small, only that simple, only that easy.

The ring gives you this small place to focus on; the rules provide you with clear boundaries and objectives. But the POINT of the game was not just to win -it was to show you, in a very practical way, how focus, concentration, goal-setting, effort, and clar
ity could give you power and purpose. You were supposed to learn how to plan, engage, and execute.

The BIG LESSON should have been about taking that learning experience and making the "ring" bigger -like as big as your family, as big as your career, as big as your circle of influence, as big as your community, as big as the world, as big as your ability to make a difference.

In the ring you focus on the task at hand. The audience doesn't distract you. The advertisements hanging on the bleacher's railings don't call to you; the negative energy from your opponent and
his or her helpers don't detour you.

So what's the connection between the ring and mastery?

It's in defining what you want. What do you want to accomplish? What is your personal definition of mastery? How does it translate to your "daily training?" And are you smart enough, resourceful enough, creative enough, focused enough, compassionate enough, and disciplined enough
to expand the ring to represent the remainder of your finite period of time left here on the planet?

The pursuit of mastery, relevant to your potential, is -I believe -the root system of the tree that bears the fruit that sustains your school and -very likely --your life.

If you don't focus on mastery -then you ignore the roots and spend an inordinate about of time on that which is visible, yes? If a tree doesn't have deep roots, what happens to it in the first big storm?

Mastery is about controlling anger, practicing detachment from illusion, expanding one's empathy and compassion for others. It's about making contribution (adding to, not taking away from); it's about awareness; it's about self-control and respect and courage to be different when you must -and the same when it's time to be the same. I also believe mastery is connected to simplicity.

I really don't know everything -if much - about mastery -but I recognize the power that the study and practice of things that bring about clarity and awareness and global consciousness brings to me. I can HEAR the words of masters -and I believe they are talking about a kind of thinking and clarity that I have, on more than one occasion, experienced as a practitioner of the martial arts. And everything in my life keeps pointing to the idea of mastery -the way everything used to, when I was younger, point to the mat and the competitive arena.

Getting a grasp on what mastery is, to you -and to masters -and the idea of beginning to PRACTICE mastery, on a day-to-day basis, is I believe, one of the best things you can do for your school, for your students, and for yourself.

My work with The Ultimate Black Belt Test -and the association, The New Way Network-is dedicated to exploring the idea of mastery for the individual and as a collective force for good, for clarity, and more contribution and meaning.

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