What can martial arts do for you? Integrity. Martial arts can help develop integrity. These days, we hardly hear this word so often anymore, and we can nearly never find it in application. Well, a dedicated martial arts practice can help one to first recognize integrity, and secondly assist one in developing and exhibiting this nearly lost art.
Let us take a closer look at integrity. Shall we? Simply stated, having integrity means doing the right thing even when no one else is looking. Let’s take a little deeper dive into what integrity means. The dictionary tells us that integrity is the quality of being complete and unbroken. A bridge that has integrity is sound and reliable. We can count on it to support us, no matter what happens, come wind or high water! The same is true of people with this characteristic. Where the human condition is concerned, integrity is the quality of having sound moral principles in both word and in deed.
Taking it a step further, let’s consider what is meant by moral principles. Although there is some variation in opinion on this subject, it is widely recognized that moral principles include honesty, sincerity, uprightness and honor. To maintain honesty, we must be completely clear of lying, cheating, and stealing. The last two requirements of cheating and stealing may seem obvious. However, many people have problems with the first requirement, staying clear of lying.
Honesty. When people lie, it’s usually out of fear – fear about the consequences of others knowing the truth. Thus lying becomes an act of cowardice, and a “little white lie” becomes a “little white act of cowardice”. Sincerity. We can only claim to be sincere when we are without deceit and hypocrisy, when we are being genuine at all times. We must be able to stand behind all we say and do.
Practicing martial arts helps us to do this. It brings us into alignment with our intentions, and our words and deeds follow. Practicing martial arts brings us to our own awareness of our actions and the effects they have on others.
Uprightness implies fairness and openness in all our dealings and contacts with others, whether social, business, or casual. Being honorable means not only are we honest, sincere and upright, it also means that we are worthy of receiving honor and respect from others.
So, you see, it all comes around in a circle. The moral principles demonstrated by a person with integrity depend upon and arise out of one another. We all know that no one is perfect, we are all human. Each of us, in spite of that, are able to strive to continually maintain our integrity at the highest possible level. The first step, is accepting that integrity is the very foundation for all other human values.
Martial artists learn to understand the importance of living with integrity in their daily lives. They learn from the earliest stages of training that they must always chose to listen to that guiding voice inside of them, known as their conscience. Their conscience gives them a little nudge when they are about to slip, always encouraging them to do the right thing. When they do the right thing, and they know it, their conscience rewards them by making them feel good about themselves.
Helping them to accept responsibility and being a good example for others, standing up for what they feel and believe, that’s what martial arts does for those who practice. That’s what martial arts can do for you too! It’s not easy, however its well worth the effort that it takes.