I read a blog article recently that suggested that the way we respond to our training partners in the dojo reflected the way we behaved towards others in our everyday lives. Here’s a quote from the article:
“It’s interesting to train with people in the dojo – in time you can see the connection between their style of body movement (““) and their personal style of interacting with others outside the dojo. Those who engage with you as a training partner, giving you a realistic attack, going neither limp nor overly tense and rigid the instant that you start applying the technique, are often the ones that you will see actively engaging outside of the dojo as well, taking on responsibilities, not shying from making decisions and commitments. On the other hand, dojo training partners who try to thwart you by not letting you apply the technique correctly, jumping away unrealistically early, falling over when you didn’t do anything, flinching away when you haven’t done anything, quitting their own technique before it’s complete – these people are often the ones outside of the dojo who are afraid of commitment, flaky, indecisive, escapist, melodramatic or passive-aggressive.”
This is an interesting idea; let’s face it we’d all like to think of ourselves as the former person rather than the latter; though I suspect the degree of correlation between ‘dojo Joe’ and ‘everyday-life Joe’ is probably not as consistent as this author suggests. Or is it?
We like to argue about whether martial arts training reveals character or develops it. The idea purported above suggests that character is revealed in the dojo rather than developed: the person who can’t commit to things in everyday life won’t commit to a technique in the dojo (e.g. won’t attack properly or won’t commit to being thrown); the person who is indecisive in life will also be indecisive in the dojo (e.g. hesitates to choose an appropriate technique) whereas the person who in life is confident and self-disciplined will bring those same qualities to the dojo (e.g. will work hard, focus well and defend and attack with confidence).
Is it that straight forward? Is it possible that some people may be very confident, successful and committed in their everyday lives but be a little fearful and reticent in the dojo – afraid of hurting themselves or others? Or, be rather timid and under-achieving in their private lives but come alive in the dojo because they are comfortable with the people they mix with there?
If it’s true that people bring the same characteristics to the dojo that they display in everyday life then is it possible that those characteristics can be changed/developed in the dojo and then transferred back to everyday life?
I have more questions than answers here but my own personal viewpoint is that to a great extent people do display similar characteristics inside the dojo as they do outside. I know that I am pretty much the same person inside the dojo as outside and I don’t feel my fundamental character has changed much over the last 5 years that I have been doing martial arts.
What do you think? Does the way we train in the dojo reflect the way we behave outside in our everyday lives?
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