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Right Action & Right Effort: The Keys to Martial Arts Mastery, Keys 3 &4

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In the philosophical teachings that form the base for our Warrior Concepts Life Mastery Program, there is a model by which we can examine our thoughts, words, and actions from eight distinct perspectives. These eight "paths" which contribute to both who we are and how we associate with the world around us include our:

    1. View or perspective of ourselves and the world

    2. Thoughts from moment-to-moment

    3. Words and the way we communicate our thoughts with the outside world

    4. Deeds or actions and the way we demonstrate to others what and how we think and see things

    5. Effort and the way we spend our time and energy

    6. Livelihood - including not only what we do to make a living but also where we choose to live and with whom to associate

    7. Concentration and what we choose to focus on and to what degree

    8. Awareness - what, how much, and the scope of what we can associate with within ourselves and the world around us.

These eight serve as the starting point for growing beyond our own limited narrow vision of what we or the world can and should be. And the world, as I've used it here, does not imply or mean that "worldly" in that you have to know people or have visited Paris, France or Butzbach, Germany for example. It means the world, "your" world around you - the one you live and connect with every day.

My focus in this article is on two of these - Action and Effort - and how they directly relate to what we normally call discipline.

It seems to me that everyone has beliefs about the way things are, what they want to do with their lives, or what others should be doing to fix their own. In fact, our own Mastery Program is nothing but a set of beliefs or theories about the way things could be done. Until . . .

. . . they are put into action with the right disciplined effort and proven to the student by his or her own experience. (In short, you must prove it to yourself!)

It is extremely important for each of us to understand that we are not "preaching" here. Nor are we "nailing lifts onto the native's feet" because we think everyone should be doing things "our way or no way at all." It is important to understand that our program is designed for those who are looking for workable solutions to some of life's most challenging problems. Each is specifically designed for adults or parents who want not only theory, but experience from experts who have solved some of the same issues and challenges that they face or may face in the future.

To be honest though, just coming to class will do little for being able to use what is learned outside of class in a real-life situation unless the lessons are put to use on a daily basis. Much as going to church will do little if the lessons received do not extend beyond the cathedral walls.

I am not advocating getting into fights or looking for trouble here. Just that practice with any new skill is required until that skill becomes second-nature or feels, what some would call, "natural." And practice, as I use it and apply it to my own life, is not merely the setting aside of the 15 or 30 minutes that we recommend. For many, even this small time frame seems unthinkable when compared to their average daily schedule.

No, what I'm talking about is taking new skills and finding ways to practice them throughout the day. I'm sure that you believe as I do that no attacker is going to give you time to stretch or "arm-up" before they attack you. So, we must do so on a regular basis (more than the twice a week class), whenever we can. A simple example would be to remember to stretch your hands and wrists while talking on the telephone or your ankles while sitting at your desk, in traffic, etc.

Other examples include practicing the arm movement for striking whenever you find yourself reaching out to open a door or shake someone's hand; sitting on the floor to watch television (stretching at the same time of course) and rolling to get up; and of course, practicing your "ninja-walking" whenever your . . . Walking!

Parents should also remember that, to a child, "practice" as we think of it is rarely fun or exciting, and forcing a child to practice in an adult fashion will probably be counterproductive and may even lead to your son or daughter not wanting to do martial arts any more.

A better solution for a child, one that also let's them see that you are interested in what they are learning and shows them that you think this is important, is to make up games or activities that allow them to practice their skills in an atmosphere that makes them "want" to. Examples include using the questions or vocabulary in their curriculum as "bait" to get a cookie, some candy or whatever the current "want" is. Betting or daring them that they can't do something like stay balanced on one foot for a minute or stay in a correct, low ichimonji for 30 seconds, etc. Children need to know that you approve of them and their progress. If you want to get more from your child, point out more of what they are doing right. Reward effort and avoid only pointing out the negative. Remember: Do so may foster the attitude that, "I can't do it right," or, "I'll just disappoint them or get in trouble anyway. So why even try?"

Up to this point, I've discussed the need for proper action to gain experience and progress in skill but what about this "effort" thing? After all, isn't the giving of 100% what we're after? Well - yes and no.

The only thing I have to say about effort is that, it is important to walk the talk. If you say that it is important to do something or that you should, then the appropriate amount of effort should be given to that 'thing,' even if it means not giving so much energy or effort to something that may feel better but not be leading you where you want to go.

So - right action . . . The proper 'doing' of what needs to be done to gain the results we're after. And - right effort . . . Putting the appropriate amount of energy, time and resources (money, supplies, etc.) Into something based on it's level of importance to the big picture of all that we are, do and want to become.

It all adds up to this: "You are either what you want to be, or what you have allowed yourself to become."

Disciplined action and sufficient effort are the keys to success. Not just in the martial arts; but in school or work; at home; and in the community. In short, they are the keys to success in life.

Jeffrey M. Miller is the founder and master instructor of Warrior Concepts International. A senior teacher in the Japanese warrior art of Ninjutsu, he specializes in teaching the ancient ways of self-protection and personal development lessons in a way that is easily understood and put to use by modern Western students and corporate clients. Through their martial arts training, his students and clients learn proven, time-tested lessons designed to help them create the life they've always dreamed of living, and the skills necessary for protecting that life from anything that might threaten it. Shidoshi Miller is also the author of the "Foundations of Self Defense Mastery" eCourse. To learn more about this and other subjects related to the martial arts, self-defense, personal development & self-improvement, or to get information about sponsoring a seminar, lecture, presentation with this dynamic speaker, visit his website.

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