Loyalty is an important skill to develop if we want to reach advanced levels of our martial arts training. To be loyal to someone or something we need to trust that person. We get to choose who we want to be Loyal to, who we want to trust.
There are many people and groups or institutions that you might choose to be loyal to. These include friends, family members, instructors and coaches, our school, our religion, our beliefs. Sometimes we are asked to be loyal to someone. This can be obvious, such as brands or stores offering loyalty cards with rewards, or it can be more subtle, such as ‘friends’ demanding that we trust them without offering true friendship in return.
It is important to be able to recognise what people and groups deserve our loyalty. Usually, loyalty that is demanded is not true loyalty. It takes time to decide if you are going to place your trust in someone or something. It cannot and should not be a snap decision to be loyal.
We show our Loyalty to our martial arts by trusting our instructor. We show this trust by always following their instruction first time, as soon as they ask it. We are prepared to try their suggestions even if we are not personally sure they will work. By doing this we learn more, and we show our instructor that we are a willing student. We are prepared to try hard things because we trust our instructor will only ever ask us to do things that will help us on our martial arts journey. Once trust is established, we can move from the basics to the exciting and advanced techniques of the martial arts.
We also show Loyalty to our family. We trust that our parents make good decisions on our behalf, and we know that we can trust them to love us unconditionally. We show Loyalty to our family by helping the family work well together, by sticking up for family members when they need our support, and being there for each other.
We can also choose to show Loyalty to friends, to sporting teams and other groups. We show this Loyalty by making choices that consider how our friends might feel. We can show Loyalty to sporting teams and groups by being there at matches and events for the group or team.
“I’d like to improve my knowledge of the Martial Arts. In addition to learning from you, I’d like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”
“The hunter who chases two rabbits,” answered the Master, “Catches neither one.”
This story shows us that if we want to succeed at anything, we need to dedicate ourselves to that thing. This does not mean that we can only ever participate in one activity, or belong to only one group.
Rather it means that while we are doing an activity, we should do it with our mind and body and heart in it. There is no good in trying to do Martial Arts while we are thinking about our homework! There is another quote common in the martial arts – ‘If you are going to stand, stand. If you are going to sit, sit. Whatever you do, don’t wobble!’ The message here is to give your training all your attention and focus when you are in class. Never step through your classes, always do everything to the best of your ability, each time you try something. That way you will train your body to perform as you need it to under pressure.
To be successful at anything we need to be committed to it, and Loyalty is demonstrated by our commitment.