March 2008

Be The Best You Can Be With These Ten Philosophies of Greatness

The martial arts are made of ancient principles, combined with modern applications. Even in a modern world, where many martial arts systems have become eclectic and where words like “Mixed Martial Arts” have become synonymous with what the martial arts represents, there are age-old philosophies that still ring true in the 21st century. When I was a young boy, the martial arts were taught a bit more elusively. The teacher may have disguised his lessons a bit more. Today’s instructors want to cut to the chase and demonstrate benefits quickly. Is that good or bad? Of course, it is entirely up to the student: when the student is ready the teacher will appear. How ready are you as the student?

Ten Philosophies of Greatness

  1. Always be open-minded – Be ready to learn from any experience.
  2. Always work hard to achieve greatness – Never settle for mediocrity.
  3. Never expect – Always strive to deserve. Never assume that you are owed results.
  4. If it is too easy – It is not always worth it. Don’t look for the easy way to your goals. Hard work always pays off in the end.
  5. Don’t compare – Everyone is different. Don’t try to do what the person next to you is doing. You are your own person; you should work on you and you only.
  6. It doesn’t matter what others think.
  7. Be patient – Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you allow yourself to be distracted or upset because little matters, then other components of your life, including family and friends, will be affected by it. Put everything in perspective.
  8. Be compassionate – Realize that everyone has agendas. Try to put yourself in others’ shoes.
  9. Be loving – Treat others as you would treat your mother, father or children. We tend to be more patient with people we know rather then perfect strangers.
  10. Be strong – Don’t shy from hard work or tasks that are difficult. Strengthen your spirit, body and mind.
  11. Be healthy – Treat you body as your temple. “Everything in moderation.” Always be careful about what you eat and drink, and how much you rest. Your body is like an engine; if you do not put in the proper fuel, then it will fail. Take care of your body; it is the only one you have.



As a martial artist, you should strive to nourish your body and mind the best possible ways. By optimizing your overall health, you optimize your athletic performance. In 2007, a panel of 21 international experts published the “Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer.” They recommended methods to prevent cancer in their countries and decrease personal risks. 1. Body Weight – Continue to maintain normal body weight. The newest recommendation emphasizes being as lean as possible, within the normal range for body weight. In addition, it stresses the importance of avoiding weight gain, specially with regard to the gain’s impact on increasing waist circumference, after age 21, as this type of weight gain is associated with increased body fat. 2. Physical Activity – As with all current recommendations for physical activity, the panel found that daily physical activity is crucial to reduce cancer risk. In ddition, the panel advised limiting sedentary behavior (such as TV watching). 3. Empty Calories – Avoid foods and drinks that contain what are considered “empty” calories. In particular, the panel mentions calorie dense foods (such as fast foods) and sugary beverages. 4. Plant Foods – Continue to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and add more whole grains to your diet. 5. Animal Foods – Red meat is the culprit in some forms of cancer, so limit your intake to 18 ounces per week. Processed meats should be avoided. 6. Preservation, Processing and Preparation – Limit the consumption of processed foods, many of which are very high in sodium as well as other chemicals. 7. Dietary Supplements – Although a vitamin/mineral supplement may often be recommended, when it comes to cancer prevention, diet is key. The panel does not advise taking a dietary supplement, but rather recommends fulfilling your nutritional needs through diet alone. Although these recommendations are specific to the reduction of cancer risk, following each of them is crucial to optimize our health in general. Martial artists who can commit to these food consumption strategies are practicing self-defense against a formidable opponent: disease!

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Translation for Adults

Have you ever reflected on your life with the “what if?” question? What if you had aken the job with that other company? What if you had bought your dream ouse? What if you had returned to school to earn another degree? You can look back with regret or “dare mighty things,” regardless of whether the results are victory or defeat. Your life will be richer because you’ve experienced both triumphs and failures. It’s better to try and fail than not to try and never know if you could have succeeded.

Translation for Kids
Trying new things can be very scary or very exciting. You might be scared to try something at first, but once you start, you may discover that it’s fun. Don’t let your fears stop you from trying new things. You may reach a new goal and have many great experiences. You’ll never be on the football, soccer or martial arts team, unless you go to the tryouts and make a great effort. You might fail, but you might also succeed, and that will be a great victory.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
Sun-tzu, author of The Art of War

Translation for Adults
This ancient warrior’s quote refers to the concept you might know as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you enter any arena – school, work, athletics, relationships – with a negative attitude of failure, then that is what will probably happen. Obviously, a positive attitude of being a winner will usually result in success. For example, if you go to a job interview, with no confidence of victory, then you’re likely to be still looking for a job after the interview. Thinking positively gives you a confidence that shows, and may impress a prospective employer as much as your résumé. Conversely, if you have all the necessary qualifications, but a negative attitude, then it’s unlikely your skills with shine through. Winners have winning attitudes.

Translation for Kids
To be a winner, you must think like a winner. For example, make sure you have a positive attitude before your Black Belt test. That confidence in yourself will help you succeed. If you have no confidence in your martial art abilities, then that negative attitude will probably cause you to fail. Keep a positive attitude, even if you are a little nervous. Your confidence will help you through the test and will show your instructor that you know what you are doing. With a great attitude, you can achieve a victory in every situation.