Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu Dojo, Victoria BC Canada

1. Self-Reliance

Self-reliance requires accountability. We must be accountable to ourselves before we can be accountable to others.

When I first entered a dojo, my motivation could be summed as: “Never again be raped. Never again be beaten. Never again be treated as property.” When I chose to keep returning to the dojo, I irrevocably changed my relationship to violence.

Accountability is about acknowledgment. Acknowledgment of skill, limitation, and interdependence.

In that first dojo, I encountered training partners who lent their time during and after class to help me learn how to protect myself from an active stalker. It probably took over a year for me to acquire the skill to thwart my stalker, but what I learned during that first year was useful in deterring a number of lesser assailants.

Martial artists are interdependent.

I want to protect others from harm I have experienced myself. I want to protect others from harm. I want to help others acquire the skills to protect themselves. I want to help others acquire the skills to protect and help others. None of us can learn martial arts alone; we come together to create communities and learning opportunities so that we may exchange information on our quest for knowledge.

Interdependence requires reliability.

In order to study martial arts, students must attend class; in order to support class, the training space must be maintained; in order to maintain the training space, students and instructors must act together in community.

Reliability begins with Self.

All learning is personal; we encounter information, and, when lucky, we integrate that information into knowledge and then hone that knowledge into skill. Skill requires motivation (interest) and will (action). Instruction is (hopefully) information made accessible, and all instruction is suggestion. We author ourselves through the choices we make, and in this way we are each our own authority.

When we are around other human beings, we rely on the authority of the social code to guide the behaviour of those others. If we, in order to appear polite, allow a person to trespass in our personal space, then we are relying on the social order to keep us safe. If we ignore social pressure and regain our personal space, we are relying on ourselves to keep us safe. We are each the first responders to our own emergencies. We cannot control what other people choose to do; we only control ourselves. We control our skills. We control our choices. We are students always, accountable to an ever-evolving Self.

Selfhood is an act of courage.

Be brave.

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