I read a wonderful quote from an old Japanese sensei, I believe he was an aikido instructor.
'In the Japanese martial arts, anyone who calls himself a master, isn't.'
I love this quote. It says everything about what separates us from so much of the martial arts garbage out there.
Anybody who is creating stories, lying to their students just to fill some self serving need; it's garbage, it needs to stop. We (as teachers) need to be protectors of something that's honorable, that involves integrity and something that in many ways a treasure.
There's no more important belt in your dojo than the White Belt. There's no more important student than the Mukyu level.
To me, someone who earns their white belt has fulfilled a much larger goal in their life than any shodan or black belt.
Here's why; I want you to take a step back to when you first stepped into your martial arts classes. Can you remember when you first started, when you had never experienced martial arts, before you walked into an environment that was very intimidating.
There were people that you didn't know, doing crazy things, throwing each other, breaking each other, punching and kicking and screaming and shouting. It was a completely new environment, something you've never been exposed to before.
The fact that you were able to put one foot in front of the other, step onto the map or the floor - and really go for it - says so much about you.
One of the greatest fears in all humans, is performing in front of other people, speaking in front of large groups and audiences. It is terrifying to most people. It could even be terrifying to a lot of us guys who practices jujitsu or judo.
Now, when we do break falls, you're actually doing the second most feared thing of all humans - falling!
So now I've got a new student... you take him or her out onto the training floor, and the first thing you do is teach them to do a break fall, in front of a large group of people they've never met before. Do you see the issue?
You're taking a new person, already intimidated, now knowing what to expect, putting them right in front of two of humankind's greatest fears. This is why I consider overcoming this moment and making it to the white belt is something that should not be taken lightly. It is not the beginning. It could quite possibly be a new student's greatest accomplishment.
Be a student. Always.
And don't just be a student of your budo. Even if you're renting a training group at a local Y M. C. A, it doesn't make a difference. You could still have an extremely profitable program to grow your Dojo. Done correctly, it's easy to have a successful, viable training group, one that is very professional.
You need to study business though. You need to study personal development, personal growth, and you need to actually study your martial art, not just talk about it.
Don't become someone who is unhealthy, lethargic, complacent. Be a student your martial art.
Don't inflate your ego in front of a new student.
Be a master of time and not a master of talk.
Be a master of listening and not a master of bragging.
Don't introduce yourself as 'Sensei' anymore. . When someone walks over demands that I call them 'master' or demands that I call them Sensei or Shihan she, it makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable.
When our new prospective students come into the Dojo for the first time, who are looking for their expectations to be filled, they're going to see through this self entitled silliness.
"You call yourself a master?", That's kind of weird.
It does not fulfill the expectations that new students have, nor does it serve ths obligation you have to those new students.
Become a model of your Budo.