Anderson Martial Arts – My Philosophy
Prof. Dan Anderson
This is an essay for all students. I want to go over what makes our martial arts different than any kind of physical activity you can engage in. These days it is easy to lump martial arts training in the same category as school sports. Martial arts is not sport. I have nothing wrong with sports but the benefits that come from martial arts go so far beyond the physical that they belong entirely in another category. Martial arts are for personal development as well as self defense and physical conditioning. Martial arts are very personal to me. Let me go over why.
1. We are a family based school.
We have been a family school since its inception in 1985. We feel that the family is the building block of the civilization. What you learn from your family is what you take out in the world.
Sadly enough, there has been the deterioration of the family as the building block of the culture since the end of World War II. Since that point in time there have been waves of “how to be a parent” fads that have actually taken many of life’s lessons and tossed them to the wayside.
These are lessons such as having respect for others, developing determination, stick-to-it-ivness, hard work to achieve a desired goal, and many others. We feel the core beliefs of the founding fathers of this country that made our country great are eroding faster and faster.
Martial arts are very personal to me. I grew up in a dysfunctional family. I was a kid who was adrift for quite some time. I idolized my older brother who worked hard on getting into trouble. By age 14 I was heading nowhere and fast. Then I became involved in karate. I became part of something that had an ethical code. From there my life began a turn around. Martial arts literally saved my life.
Today’s society is an MTV, fast food culture that is making the building blocks of this civilization obsolete. Individualism to the point of not caring for your community, drug & alcohol abuse, zero work ethic, lack of respect, lowered educational standards in school and so on are the normal operating modes these days rather than exceptions. None of the above prepares any student to meet the rigors of life in the real world.
I am a father of 6 kids and a grandfather of 10. I have a big concern about the future of my community. My community extends beyond my neighborhood, my town, my state, my country. My community is people. Martial arts is the perfect vehicle for me to make a positive contribution to my community.
Martial arts teach respect, discipline, focus, teamwork, perseverance & goal setting. This brings about self-confidence and self-esteem. We want our students to become better human beings.
We want our students to be the very best they can be. Martial arts is my vehicle to help each and every student achieve this loft goal.
- Martial arts training is a metaphor for life.
A metaphor is a figure of speech which makes a comparison between two things or objects that are poles apart from each other but have some characteristics common between them.
We teach people how to confront violent situations. We use that as a metaphor for confronting life.
Life can be very daunting. There are many challenges that life can present that take us off balance. The loss of a job, the hurt of a personal relationship that goes sour, personal accidents or injuries are among the acts of life that can bring us down. Martial arts training is an analogy to taking on life and overcoming the challenges life can and will present. Working for any belt level presents obstacles. Perhaps one or more of the moves are difficult to perform. Maybe a concept is difficult to understand. Maybe there is an aspect of training that makes you feel uncomfortable. These are challenges that give you the opportunity to meet them head on and overcome them. Note that I say “gives you challenges” rather than say “presents you with obstacles” or “gets in the way of life”.
One can look at these challenges in a positive way or negative way. It is all in the way you look at it. “Life isn’t fair” is negative. “I can’t do this” is self defeating. “This is too tough” takes away your own personal power. Today’s culture is filled with so many negative messages, both obvious and covert, that it is a given that you will not fulfill your potential or have a happy life. The perfect slogan that goes around that states it is “Life is tough and then you die.” It doesn’t get much more negative than that. Just as a lack of confidence in your ability to defend yourself will set you up to lose a fight, a negative viewpoint teaches you how to lose at life. Life will present you with challenges often.
We want our students to become better human beings and better equipped to make a happy life for them and their families.
- Martial arts training is terrific for learning goal setting.
All too often people drift through life waiting for something good to happen to them or winning the lottery or some such. I’m not sure where all this came about but I do know one thing – if you work for something you will get it. The key is in setting the goal in the first place.
The belt ranks are one way of learning goal setting. Ultimately the big goal is to earn your Black Belt. That is a long distance goal. To achieve that goal you need to set a number of shorter term, more easily attained goals along the way. These are the separate belt colors as well as each
stripe on your belt.
This concept carries over to school woke beautifully. If you want to get an “A” in your class, that is a long term goal. Shorter term goals include passing the tests and in order to do that, mini-goals such as fully completed class assignments and homework are done.
Another example of this is buying a house. That’s a big goal. Perhaps the fists mini-goal is to make the decision that you are going to do it. That leads to going out and finding a job. Another mini-goal accomplished. Then you begin saving up for the down payment. While you do that you work on having a good credit rating. Mini-goals being accomplished in an order that leads you to the big goal finally being accomplished.
As in belt ranks, each completed mini-goal brings you one step closer to the short term goal which, in turn, brings you one step closer to the accomplishment of the big goal. Each belt rank is an accomplishment and teaches goal setting. The belt ranks also work on a very important aspect of goal setting and goals achievement – stick-to-it-iveness.
It is all too easy to find a reason to quit anything. “It’s too hard. I’m bored. I can’t do it. It’s going to take too long. I don’t like it anymore. I don’t have the time anymore. I was never any good at it anyway. I’m too tired.” These are all “reasons” for not sticking to anything. This society has made it far too easy to quit…anything. I’m not just talking about martial arts. Quit your job, quit your relationship, quit your diet. It’s everywhere. This is not the attitude of the founding fathers of our country and not the attitude of any successful person. When I am talking about a successful person I’m not only talking about business success. I am talking about success in anything. I’m talking about the guy who is good at his job. I’m talking about the mother and father who raise their kids to be happy and productive. I’m talking about the woman who completes her diet. I’m talking about someone who overcomes substance abuse. Life successes are not just business successes, sports successes, political successes, etc.
One common denominator to success is sticking to something until the job is done. There is only one way to achieve skills in martial arts – you work for it. There are no shortcuts. You set a goal, you decide to achieve that goal, you work to achieve that goal (and this includes overcoming obstacles along the way), and you achieve that goal. This does not matter if your goal is the first stripe on your belt or full black belt.
That kind of success is what we teach at Anderson Martial Arts and the most noticeable way is through the colored belt ranks. The amount of work and determination needed to progress through each belt rank pays off in life. I have had more parents than I can count come up to me and tell me how their kids’ grades have gotten better since training. This is direct cause and effect of determination to earn a belt to determination to better a school grade.
4. Myth buster - The dangerous environment.
If you read the newspapers, internet news, watch TV and so forth you get the idea that we live in a “dangerous environment”. The dangerous environment concept is heavily advertised in the news media. You read/listen to/watch episodes of violence, robbery, abuse every day.
I am NOT a believer in the “dangerous environment” concept.
How often do you come across a robbery? How about someone being beaten in front of your eyes? How about gang violence? Probably not very often. The environment actually isn’t that dangerous. It’s just reported to be that way. I liken the environment to drunk driving. Yes, there are drunk drivers out there. Yes, you should keep your eyes open and aware for them.
Keeping your eyes open for someone driving drunk is vastly different than suspecting that everyone is driving drunk. One is being aware and prepared and the other is living in fear.
I DO NOT teach “fear based martial arts.” Martial arts training teaches awareness as well as confidence in one’s self defense skills to handle situations.
We also teach common sense. An example is if you know that fights break out at the Dew Drop Tavern after midnight, then you don’t go to that tavern after midnight. Another example is that if you know that the local Safeway has poor parking lot lighting, you either go there during the day or you go to Fred Meyer. I once had a student that “was always getting into fights.” Upon investigation I found out that he was hanging “friends” who were always getting into fights.
Nobody was picking on him. His “friends” were the ones who were instigating these confrontations. After going over with him that he needed to see this and possibly get new friends, he stopped getting into fights. There are a number of preventative common sense measures that one takes to counter the “dangerous environment”.
5. Myth buster - Martial arts are inherently dangerous.
I teach the ethical use and non-use of the martial arts. A martial arts instructor is engaged in the teaching of self-defense moves. Self-defense moves, when misused, can cause injury to another. These must be taught with care and with a sense of ethics and discipline. A good comparison is a mom or dad teaching their child how to drive. A car, if misused, can cause injury. How can you misuse a car? Simple. Speed, drive recklessly, tailgate, drive while intoxicated, drive with your headphones on, and so on. A parent teaches his/her child how to drive the car safely or enrolls their child in a Driver’s Education course brings about a responsible driver so that when that child is on the road in a car, there is no worry about the safety of their child or others.
Martial arts can be taught safely as well as judiciously. The goal of martial arts training is not to train someone how to fight or get into fights. The goal of martial arts training as it pertains to fighting is to not fight! There is a symbol of Japanese calligraphy hanging in my school that translates as “Budo” – martial way. The fascinating thing is that “Budo” is a compound word of two Japanese characters that mean “to stop” and “the fight.” THAT is my goal for each student - how to stop the fight, especially before it gets to that point. This is done by the student becoming confident in himself/herself, raising their self esteem, by not being a victim in their personality. A “victim personality” becomes a bully magnet. I’ve seen this time and time again. Personal confidence becomes a bully repellant.
A true martial arts instructor is one who has done his training. He has made the mistakes of youth and has learned from them. He may have been injured by misuse in training and so on. The true martial arts instructor who will use his/her experiences to guide their charges to better training methods so as not to injure themselves in training is an ethical instructor. The martial arts instructor who will use his/her experiences to train each and every student the ethical use and non-use of their martial arts abilities is an instructor who is participating in the growth of each student.
In this way the true martial arts instructor is like a parent to each student no matter the student’s age. You raise and nurture your student to be the very best he/she can be.
- Martial arts instills a sense of ethics.
There is too much disconnection from moral and ethical standards these days. Every culture has had a code of conduct which made it, not only special, but something to aspire to a higher state of life and living. The following is a terrific example.
Everyone has heard of the Samurai warriors of Japan. The term “Samurai” means “to serve.” The Samurai had a code called “Bushido” – “do” means “the way of” and “Bushi” was the Japanese “knight.” “Bushido” - the way of the warrior knight.
The code of Bushido consisted of these points:
Rectitude (morally correct behavior or thinking) or Justice (the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness)
Courage (the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery), idiom: have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism
Benevolence (desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness) or Mercy (compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power, compassion, pity, or benevolence)
Politeness (showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil)
Honesty (the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.) and
Sincerity (freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity; integrity and uprightness in intention or in communicating; earnestness)
Honor (honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions)
Loyalty (the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations, characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.)
Character (moral or ethical quality, qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity) and
Self-Control (control or restraint of oneself or one's actions, feelings, etc.)
You will note that the above traits are considered to be civilized and positive. The above traits are not confined to any one culture or country. I use the Code of Bushido as a model because I teach martial arts. The Boy Scouts of America code of honor would have similar traits. Military codes of conduct are another example of codes of behavior.
I am not teaching anybody to be Samurai in my school. I do want each student to be the best they can be and to exist in society with others, the above traits will go far to ensure that they can live a well and happy life.
As I said before we are family based. As a parent I want the best for my kids and grandkids. I want them to lead happy and productive lives.
My school is my extended family. I want my extended family to lead happy and productive lives. For as long as each student entrusts me with their care, I want to be a positive influence on them. I have found that a code of ethical behavior is one of the best lessons I can impart on them.
- Why I am called “Professor.”
There are a number of terms/titles for an instructor in a martial arts school.
Sensei (sen say) – martial arts originating in Japan and Okinawa Sifu or Shifu (c-foo, shir-foo) – martial arts originating in China Sa Bum Nim – martial arts originating in Korea
Guru or Guro – martial arts originating in the Philippines, India, etc. Professor – martial arts originating or taught in America
All of these titles have been taken to mean as generic terms for “teacher.” As you read the definitions of each you will see that they have a deeper and common meaning.
Sensei is a Japanese word that is literally translated as "person born before another".
The word Sensei is written in two Kanji (Japanese) characters. The literal meaning of the Kanji characters are: “Sen”, meaning before or arriving early, “Sei”, meaning life or being born.
Putting the two characters together gives the meaning of “being born before” or “living early”. In other words, the two characters project the meaning of: “the one who lived before,” “the one who was born earlier” or “the one who has lived and experienced life before.”
Accordingly, the word “Sensei” is used to refer to an individual who has previously walked the path, learned the lessons, and experienced the process.
Sifu is a Chinese term that literally translates to “teacher-father.” Sifu (Cantonese Chinese) or Shifu (Mandarin Chinese) is an accomplished teacher who oversees apprentices in certain traditions and philosophies. Si-Fu (teacher-father) signifies the respect and link to teacher and student, rather than a sign of empowerment.
Sa Bum Nim - Sa Bu which means "teacher like father." Nim, is a suffix that is added to Sa Bu, or other titles, and attaches the meaning of respect and love to the title. At one time in Korea only small groups of instructors and students existed and one instructor had about one to ten students at the most. The students followed their instructors like a father. Fellow students respected one another like brothers and sisters.
Guru is a term for any person who counsels or advises; a mentor.
Professor - A professor is a scholarly teacher. The precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.
You can now see that, in the martial arts, the instructor/student relationship is different from the usual western relationship of somebody who merely teaches another. You will find some teachers in public schools who try to create meaningful relationships with their students but all
too often the sheer number of pupils they have in their charge prevents this. That doesn’t happen in this school.
The special relationship inherent in the martial arts instructor/student relationship is one of nurturing. This is the type of relationship that we strive to create at Anderson Martial Arts. Although my inner feeling is one of ‘sensei,’ ‘sifu,’ and ‘sa bum nim,’ I prefer to go by the title of “Professor.” Why? I am an American teaching in America to Americans. I speak English to people who understand English. The culture is different in the west than in the east. I do not want to use terms and phrases that will confuse my students. I feel like a second father to my students. I am trying to raise them up to be better people through the vehicle of Martial Arts. It worked beautifully for me so I want the same benefits for others.
The above is my martial arts philosophy. This is the underlying philosophy at Anderson Martial Arts. This is the special relationship between us and you.
Prof. Dan Anderson