“The warrior doesn’t train for others to see him. He trains because he is a warrior and perfecting his spirit is his lifetime objective.” That is a quote by author and martial artist Forrest E. Morgan. Why do you train in the martial arts? For me when I was a new karate student I had a warrior within that I needed to develop to be tested and to be trained. I think this is true of every young man. The karate dojo provided me with an adventure and a place to polish my spirit. Author John Eldredge says, “Adventure requires something of us, puts us to the test. Though we may fear the test, at the same time we yearn to be tested, to discover we have what it takes.” As a young man I longed to be tested, to see if I had what it took and the dojo provided the right atmosphere I needed to challenge me.
Those same skills that I learned to develop in the dojo, to be able to face my fears and win, I still use everyday. The dojo was a place where I could develop the warrior within me. It was a place where I could develop Tokun, my fighting spirit. In any endeavor in life you must learn also to develop Tokun, it is a prerequisite for success in whatever you wish to accomplish. The good things in life are never easy and the easy things in life will never develop your inner strengths. Karate master Richard Kim once said, “He who conquers himself is the greatest warrior. This is the highest of platitudes for the karate master.” In the dojo our training partners our ultimately not the ones we wish to conquer, but ourselves. If we learn this lesson of fighting the enemy within, by fighting the doubts that can plague our minds with every new challenge we face, then we can be victorious in our daily battles. Most students will never use their karate skills on another person in self-defense, but the attitude and the spirit it takes to win in life that they learn in the dojo they can use everyday. No matter how many cool self-defense moves you may know, if you don’t develop the warrior within you and hone your fighting spirit you’ll never win in any endeavor. This fighting spirit is something that transcends the dojo and can impact every area of your life. Some people are born with a fighting spirit and the rest of us must develop it. That is where the dojo can be a great asset. The proper dojo atmosphere can provide the right environment that will cultivate that spirit within the young boy and girl and ultimately help them be more successful in every area of their life.
What is the right dojo atmosphere? It is an atmosphere where you will be nurtured and pushed. The proper dojo culture is lead by a sensei who cares for his students and also challenges them to be there very best. It is a place where we are tested and encouraged at the same time. Every boy has a warrior within that longs to be developed, tested and trained. It is within our nature as men. Give that to your sons in a good martial arts school with a good Sensei, one who has not only knowledge and skills, but also has a good heart and you will see your child flourish. And one day they will thank you for the opportunity you gave them. I write this primarily with boys in mind, although of course boys and girls alike can benefit from the martial arts, but it is important to recognize that every little boy is a little man growing up who longs to be tested and to prove himself a man. Author Stephen Mansfield says, “We live in an opulent blandness-overfed, overtended, overentertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves. But men need aggressive physical lives. They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.” A good dojo provides this special place. A place for young men and young ladies to develop their warrior within. Give that to your sons and daughters and one day they will thank you for it.
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