Monday, March 24, 2014

While training with a dear friend of mine over the weekend, he regaled me with a story of a young woman he knew whose teacher had informed her that her decision to go to college after attaining her 1st Dan was somehow an abandonment of her duty and responsibility.

Ignoring the appalling nature of such a claim, such actions seem more and more common from martial teachers lately. This problem is one that is systematically ignored by teachers and has created a generation of poorly adjusted and and often insecure fighters.

Martial arts teachers are ignoring the emotional well-being of their students. As instructors, guides, and counselors we have a responsibility to our pupils to ensure that this element of training is reinforced and to do so in a mindful way. We acknowledge, as a community, the value of sustainable practice, right? We want students to treat themselves and their physical bodies in a way that will allow them to train for a long period of time. Many Chinese martial arts are SPECIFICALLY longevity oriented and yet it is far easier to regain physical health than it is to regain emotional health.

The attitude that martial practitioners simply need to 'toughen up' or that we, as teachers, are only responsible for the physical well-being of our pupils is ridiculous and irresponsible. It represents an intentional decision to be ignorant of one of the most important elements of martial training: the power of the relationship between teacher and student.

So please, for fuck's sake, start paying attention to your students. Their practice will benefit from it hugely as their confidence soars.


  1. But talking about emotions apparently flies in the face of what so many people think a 'warrior' should do... ridiculous.