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Compassion and Martial Arts

Living the Martial Arts way means more than just showing up to class. Itís more than just the forms or the techniques. It's more than sparring on the dojo floor or making sure you bow every time you enter or exit. Living Martial Arts is also about every aspect of your life, in and outside of the school setting. That also means that Martial Arts is about your community and reaching out to help others.

Iím reminded of this over the last weekend as I attended my International Conference for my organization. Among others there was a group from Jamaica under Sifu Dwain Gayle. In this country, we take for granted the luxuries we have, the ease at which we can travel and the availability of our training. Many of these kids who came with Sifu Dwain had worked months to get here and trained for hours on end. Some of their members couldnít even make it to the conference because of either monetary concerns or visa issues. The stories that Sifu Dwain tells, of children being abandoned early in life with no home or family, not even a birthday, breaks your heart.

And yet, despite all the hardships in their lives, they are training. And helping one another to keep going. During last yearís hurricanes that devastated most of that area, these kids still trained, finding the only refuge left for them on the beach. When one of the kids couldnít afford a uniform, one of the other parents stepped up and helped to buy it and Sifu Dwain found ways to keep training the child despite financial difficulties.

Itís this kind of compassion to me that truly represents living the Martial Arts way. Itís not just about how many trophies you win or how many marks are on your belt. Itís about what type of person you are and what you give back to the community.

So as many of you start a new school year, consider it as part of your training. Take time to think: What can I do to help others less fortunate than I? What can I do, even outside of my school, to live the Martial Arts way?

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