The individual desire to study martial arts is diverse and interesting at the same time. For many the intention is to learn a way of fighting so that if the unfortunate situation arises and you have to defend yourself then you can do so.  The trick in martial arts is to teach the student to remain open and honest in their quest for martial arts skills. There is a real risk that as you get stronger, fitter and in control the new found power that you develop will blind you to rise of the ego’s never ending insatiable desire for more and to be more.  This will only inhibit what needs to be an open and honest approach to training.

1. You can learn enough physical skills to defend yourself in an hour. The mental and emotional skills take a life time to master. It is your own minds interpretation of a situation that will dictate your ability to be able to defend yourself adequately. Many train in martial arts for years and still believe the need to learn more and more self defence to be able to defend themselves. They only address the emotional aspects as they stumble upon them by mistake.

2. The truth in martial arts lay not in the learning of physical moves but in the observation of the moves as they arise out of stillness.

3. If there is any chance to evoke an opinion or judgement then emotional balance has been broken. Most martial artists will easily give up their advantage and clearly indicate their ability away simply by the badge on their uniform. Some wear one badge, others line their uniforms with several clearly outlining to their opponent exactly what they have studied and their intention. This is ignorance.

4. Your opponent will formalate an opinion about you in a micro second. How you look how you talk, walk and generally hold yourself.  Your ability and excellence as a martial artist will be how well you remain neutral under pressure and your ability to respond clearly to what is needed. Every situation that presents itself is totally neutral. All emotions including fear, panic, anger etc rise out of your interpretation of what is happening at that time. Unless you are still, neutral and in control, your reaction/response may not be in accordance with what is clearly happening. Your ability as a martial artist is how well you then apply this to daily life. There is no use being a great Sensei in your dojo if you get impatient standing in  a line or get angry at the first person that cuts you off in traffic.

5. The ability to have this response has to be practised in all daily activities, it is one and the same. It is the ability and discipline of the martial artist to bring this still awareness into every day life that clearly enables him/her to make martial arts a life choice of peace and transcend the art of fighting into the art of life.

6. Even the colour and material of the uniform will allow your opponet to make an opinion and easily formulate a plan to bring you down. While their is attachment and identification to martial arts bling, the ego is clearly involved. Once the bling and dogma has been removed, all that is left is martial arts, real martial arts. While there is an attachment to winning or losing or when winning or losing is the head of the system and not the tail, the system will be no better than a sporting school, void of effective martial art lifestyle.

7. Joining a proper martial arts school is not the same as joining a gym. Very few realise this. It takes years to gain the trust of a Sensei. The relationship between Sensei and student grows as the student proves his/her dedication and loyalty to the dojo and  commitment to whether the good and hard times.  Most never realise this and quit well and truly before any real learning commences.

8. Martial arts can be a business, it needs to be a business. Many great teachers can only grow and share their skills if they have a platform to live in the world. Great martial arts leaders offer great service. They have the insight to see the needs of the students and send their message out accordingly. The delivery may not always be understood by the student, but it is always the students welfare that is of the most important.

9.  A great Sensei will take you on a journey. They enable you to walk and be present on a path that only leads to ‘self’ discovery. Whether you can fight, get your next belt, become a black belt, win a competition, lose a competition or become a registered trainer, are learning MMA, BJJ, Taekwondo or Karate is of no consequence.

10. What matters is your ability to be able to relate to the rest of the world in a way that enables humanity and propagates peace.

Andy Dickinson


  1. John Pantaleo on November 6, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Hi Andy,

    Great article. Every martial artist should take the time to read the points no matter what style they study. Unfortuntaly today you see students comparing each other as to how many wins they have had and even how bad they were able to hurt their oponent.

    When someone studies martial arts ego can play a big part. This can sometimes effect other student in a negative way. Some students will partner up with student who may be less confident to take advantage of them or look superior to their sensei.

    No emotional aspects are taught and physical aspects are the main importance. This would seem to be the main problem with the modern day martial arts dojo.

    John Pantaleo

    • andy on November 7, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Thanks John for your contribution. I hope it helps your martial arts journey.


  2. andrew m on November 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Andy
    Ten simple points with so much behind them thanks Andy for the opportunity to practice martial arts.

  3. Jack on November 15, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Hi Andy,

    It is great to be part of what you teach. I have said it before, I have changed and will continue to do so. I feel that I am becoming better and look forward to many years with Shinbudo. Very powerful stuff.


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