If you study the way and path 道, then you should understand the truth correctly. If you study martial arts 武術, then you must understand both the way and the weapon.
The path involves the actions of the body, speech, and mind. The system or way of fighting can be a sword, but it can also, of course, be a bare fist. Just as you wouldn't swing a weapon in a crowded room, one should refrain from speaking or acting with a defiled state of mind.
A sword, once drawn and brandished may cut or kill. Not just your opponent but yourself as well. The injury can not be reversed. Possibly the wound can be repaired, but damages remain. Gossiping and spreading lies, throwing around hate is just as careless as drawing a sword in a crowded room.
I know very well from my own personal experience that it is not easy to keep our minds controlled. In the past, I have often lost my temper and said and done stupid things. If we don't attempt to change and put hard feelings and stuff behind us, then we will forever be wounding ourselves and others around us. Putting stuff behind us doesn't mean jamming things under the rug and ignoring them. We must use our spiritual energy and focus our minds to help get to the root of issues and to use compassion so that forgiveness can blossom. There are people I don't care for that make content, or teach martial arts and buddhism. I don't hate them. I do, however, dislike their lies and how they mistreat people online and offline. That, by the way, is the same. Flaming someone online is the same as standing inches from them and screaming the same silly things to their face. So what do I do? I avoid their Facebook pages and blogs. I don't watch their videos. When their posts or whatever scrolls past my screen, I wish them the best and move on. Indeed things that happened three, five, or ten years ago shouldn't be carrying the same sharp weight as if they happened three minutes ago. I have seen serious issues with people following someone online for years. It is a very sad thing. It is hard work, but if we want to be students of the path and martial arts, then we must endeavor to understand the truths of the path and way. It is not enough to intellectually understand the teachings of impermanence or compassion.
It is not sufficient to intellectually appreciate the techniques of the sword. We must also use the lessons from the path, and govern the use of our power from martial arts training. If we want to be martial arts teachers or monks, then even more so we must be diligent. Accepting students into the dojo or temple requires us to be honest and upright. We should try our best. Students come to a Buddhist Monk, for example, to learn meditation and compassion. Students look at a martial arts teacher and expect them to teach them honestly. If you are filling your biography with lies as a teacher, or you are insulting people and spreading lies as a monk, then you are doing a double disservice in life. Not only are you defiling yourself, but you are poisoning another person as well. I try every day to soften myself with compassion and forgiveness. When I suffer insults and abuse, I try to understand the people that are sending it my way. It is not easy. It is tough. I have seen high ranking teachers struggle with it. I have seen famous Buddhist monks also cope with accepting abuse from people. I have also seen high ranking martial artists and monks and priests engage in slander, and malicious speech, and gossip. I have seen them mistreat their students and create very toxic dojo enviornments. I am not perfect, but I know that over the years I have certainly changed for the better and used my time on the path and martial arts training to help me see the truth and be a better person. Not the best person, but a better person than I was yesterday. If we all try to be more honest and compassionate and truthful with our arts, then we can build a better community.
Saneteru Radzikowski is the head sword instructor of Shinkan-ryū Kenpō. He lives and teaches Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu from Nara, Japan.
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