Getting your own way

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People are usually motivated by the quest for gratification. They seek out things that please them and avoid things that fail to measure up.
New starters sometimes commence a martial arts class and imagine that they can 'cherry pick' the syllabus. Typically, they are quietly instructed to get on with the training.

Service industry?

A martial arts class is not about gratification. This is a very important thing to recognise. It is not the 'service industry'.
Martial arts schools have existed for centuries. They have only one purpose: to teach you combat skills. Their role is not to please you.

"I just want to be happy."

All the time?


May your wishes be granted

People are seldom in possession of the whole story. We operate with partial knowledge. And the less you understand, the less informed your choices are.
If you act without appropriate context, insight and understanding, your actions may easily be misguided and confused.
The danger with getting your own way is that your capacity to determine importance and relevance is impaired.
What you think is important may not necessary be the best choice in hindsight.


A student may have a variety of opinions and notions concerning their chosen art, but these rarely coincide with the actuality of the art.
If the students aims to impose their will upon the martial art, the outcome will be misguided.
The student will only practice what pleases them. And much will be neglected and overlooked.
In Taoist terms, this is called 'the cart seeking to lead the horse'.
Unless the student is a skilled practitioner, they have no idea how to teach the art, or what the goals are. Consequently, they have no idea how best to accomplish those aims.

Hearing what you want to hear...

Sometimes people ignore what they don't agree with or don't want to listen to. This is naive. And ignorant.
A good example is
Dr Michael Greger (author of How Not To Die) recommends 90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day. How many people read Dr Greger's expert advice and immediately dismiss it?
It is wise to consider the origin of Dr Greger's advice. He's not saying it to be bossy or unreasonable. His insight is the outcome of many years of professional research, exploration and study.
His suggestion echoes what
three doctors wrote in The Okinawa Program after an exhaustive 25 years of study and practical research.
Now ask yourself a single important question: given that four doctors are giving professional advice backed up by many years of experience, who are you to simply dismiss it? And on what grounds?
Have you any professional, provable basis to debunk these doctors?

Ignoring etiquette

Students often selectively ignore the Code of Conduct. They choose when, if and how to bow. They don't remove their shoes when visiting the instructor's house.
They greet the instructor in a casual, familiar way, "Hiya!"
None of these are okay. If they become habit, Sifu Waller will simply treat them as misconduct, and your membership is in jeopardy.


When something prevents a person from getting their own way, the response is often to become emotional. Instead of accepting the situation, or considering alternatives, the individual pushes harder.
They complain, they argue, they become offensive.
'Saying your piece' or 'getting something off your chest' may be fine for a counselling service. But not for a martial arts class.
A person of strong character endures silently. They take the corrections, the hardship and the difficulties. Being thwarted is an opportunity to change. To adapt. To improvise.


When a student is denied an area of training it is for a good reason. For example: a student who cannot perform the Long Yang competently is wasting their time seeking sword forms.
Walk before you can run?
Similarly, if a person with arthritis, vertigo or chronic fatigue syndrome cannot functionally (or safely) undertake tai chi. This is not meanness.
The individual is physically incapable of doing the training.

The attacker

An attacker will not accommodate you. Their
intention is to cause you harm. Losing your temper or becoming aggressive will not aid your plight. You need to remain calm and composed.
Instead of trying to force an outcome, move with what is happening and take advantage of any opening that presents itself.

In class

Martial arts classes are designed to temper the ego and quash arrogance. A student must learn patience and humility, respect and consideration. Invariably, this means not getting your own way.

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 26 February 2001