In the dojo, when I hear a student offer excuses to a teacher, I can only think that that student is unteachable or at the very least tough to reach. Reasons are not excuses, and we should never offer up selfish explanations that pass blame in our dojo. Someone offering excuses in response to their teacher's admonishments is frankly not going to learn properly. In short, it is counterproductive and rude.

Excuses are a bit different than reasons. Reasons are clear and logical. A rational explanation. "I didn't paint the house because it rained." That is not an excuse that is a reason. Unless it only rained for 30 minutes in the early morning and you spent the rest of the day drinking beer and eating pizza.
The reason for not painting the house, however, might be because you couldn't manage your time well. Instead of saying that, we make an excuse such as, "I didn't have time."

Excuses mask our bad habits. We use them all the time to cover up our b.s. Just about everyone is guilty of making excuses. If we use them, we are retarding our progress and performance. Being clear about our shortcomings is the only way to improve ourselves.

The Art of Excuses

If my teacher explains to me that my waza is not looking good and I immediately offer an justification such as, "I didn't get enough sleep last night." or "I didn't have time to review things." then I am merely masking my issues. The real reasons for not doing what had to be done remains stuffed under the rug. In turn, I would never grow and learn anything. Excuses are damaging to ourselves.

If we are using them in the dojo, for example, then it hinders our training and tarnishes the bonds with our teachers and dojo partners. No one enjoys listening to excuses. It is incredible that we still use them as much as we do.

When a teacher spends time giving us their advice and all we offer is an excuse it shows we aren't listening to them, but are more concerned with protecting our own (internal and external) image. Earlier, I expressed that it is rude. We are not listening and taking to heart what our teacher is telling us. We are in effect, wasting their time — also our own time and money.

Reduce Excuse Output

As students of the martial arts, we need to have accountability — especially teachers of the martial arts. When we make excuses, we are sweeping the legs of our responsibility like Johnny in the Karate Kid. Excuses shouldn't be strutting around like the head of Cobra Kai. Creating excuses also makes us look like liars and incompetent people. More traits that are unbecoming in the martial arts.

It might help to evaluate what we are doing. Perhaps we are going too fast? Maybe we are trying to do too many things at once? One thing I often see are people trying to cram too much into their lives. You can argue that life is short, but if you are making excuses for not coming to the dojo or training properly because you are stuffing your schedule full of other activities then its best to re-think things.

There are a few times when making excuses has a bit of a benefit to the maker. It might be necessary to protect yourself and offer up some explanation so that the weight of something is not so heavy upon you. Excuses are not precisely 100% evil, although they can quickly become a severe hindrance to your training and growth as a person.

A Gift Not To Give Your Teacher

If your teacher tells you that you don't have good attendance, for example, smile and say, "I understand. I will try harder."
Don't offer excuses saying, "I am sorry, BUT I have been busy at work."
That might seem like a legitimate reason, but it is more of an excuse and blocks the actual reason why you're not getting to the dojo or involved in training enough. The quick-fire reply with an apology/excuse is a clear sign to whomever you are speaking to that you are not being honest and looking at how to improve.

Martial arts is about control. Control of the mind and the body. Control of the opponent. Making excuses is all about lack of control. If you value your training and respect yourself, your teacher and your dojo partners, then you should try your best to be honest and forthright. Don't invite the habit of making bad excuses into your life.

©2019 S.F.Radzikowski