Patience, Respect, Humility and Love

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

~By Dr. Gregory Steiner

I must be getting older, I guess. As I write today I’m recovering from a long-awaited surgery on one knee, and I’m getting ready for surgery on the other knee tomorrow. That’s another story, but in order to be able to kick well again and to stay in good shape it’s an inconvenience that just needs done. So, a few more days on crutches it is…..

What this time of life has done is give me enough distance from working out to consider more deeply the philosophy of martial arts, or at least my interpretation of it. As a father now, I see things much differently as I make all those fatherly attempts to steer my children on some path that has values truer and greater than those they get from infomercials and mass media. So much for the motivations behind the reflections…

Patience. Respect. Humility. Love. All Tukong students become familiar with these from Day 1 in their Tukong career. Though years ago I probably had some “feeling” notion that they were all connected in some way, the years have given some insights – at least personal insights – into what lies behind and beneath these four principles.

It seems to me that they can exist quite independently, yet it’s the four together that bring a balance. A patient man can be good or bad, planning good or planning evil. Still, to be patient is to be determined. There is a false patience however, in which little gets done due to fear, procrastination or laziness – this isn’t patience, but excuse making. Real patience implies many things, including the sustained motivation to earn a black belt, the try-and-try-again attitude and experimentation to learn how to fight well, or perhaps to teach newer students many of the techniques. Patience can be moral, or personal. There may well be times when a good show of anger and temper are just and appropriate, but so often a poison tongue might be better kept in its mouth. Psychologists refer to “frustration tolerance,” a trait which really refers to how a resilient a person is in doing what they reckon they should do, and in not doing what they shouldn’t to best achieve their goals. It seems to me that patient endurance is truly important both personally and among people.

Respect seems the ability to “give the other person the benefit of the doubt,” at least until the person acts in such a way not to deserve it. Respect seems the “oil” or lubricant to successful human relations – again in my opinion. Some years ago my wife (Tukong black belt Monica) spent 2 years backpacking across the planet. We experienced many cultures and met many, many people, and we learned that while people are basically the same everywhere, they are also basically different! They may have the same basic concerns, but they approach those concerns quite differently. Differences aside, what we saw time and time again was that by demonstrating a basic respect – sometimes a “watchful” and guarded respect – but respect nonetheless, we met many friends, learned many things, and in all but a very few places we were shown the greatest heart-felt hospitality in many parts of the globe. It seems to me that true respect is much different from a false or “show” respect; both can exhibit the same behaviors, but what’s in the heart can be very, very different…..

Humility I see as two things – an acknowledgement that I am not a god or king (even in my own mind!), yet also a personal confidence in my abilities and basic self-worth. Anything less would amount to abasement of either me or another person, and in my value system I’m just not interested in either one. Humility can also lead to courage, in that a humble person can allow him or her self to fail, and failure-plus-learning is the path to eventual success…..and greater confidence. True humility opens a door to learning, because it presupposes that there is always something more to learn. Counterfeit humility seems to be a pretty good ploy for arrogant people to use on interview shows and to manipulate others, but most of the time it seems like the heart can tell the difference…..

Love is probably the backbone of community, and of self-worth. I certainly am not able to define it, though I can talk around it, I suppose. What I once felt as a child-like worship of my parents; what I later felt as a heart-rending and intoxicating love for the woman who later became my wife, what I feel for my children, and what I have held inside for all the many people of the Tukong community and my martial arts teachers since my youth – these are all faces of “love.” The interesting thing is that probably none of these is sufficient to describe love. At this point of life it seems to me that love has as much to do with will and discipline as it does with intense and good feelings for others. It has become increasingly evident that love requires actions, actions when tired, when in a bad mood, when you’d rather be doing something else. That’s where will and discipline step in, and it seems like it’s those things that go the distance and really endure when the times of testing come, which they inevitably do…

So, as I prepare for surgery tomorrow it seems to me that these four principles together are largely what give martial arts an edge towards living better, and guidance as to how to apply martial arts in daily life. Martial arts can certainly act as the thorns on the rose, and sometimes the flower needs protected with efficiency and determination. It seems to me that the four principles make a pretty good guide……

All the best to the Tukong family,

Dr. Greg Steiner

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