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Becoming a business leader through martial arts training

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If you’re an entrepreneur, professional or employee, martial arts training can be your secret weapon for business success. 

 

It can improve productivity, character strength, mental, physical endurance, focus, and a host of other attributes prized in the business world. It can also help you learn fellowship and leadership. 

 

Look at Japan where martial arts began. The country is a highly developed and a well-organized society, that’s relatively free of crime and violence. The discipline and productivity seen in Japanese workers and managers come from the direct influence of the martial arts.

 

Creating real leaders

 

“The role of a great leader is not to give greatness to human beings, but to extract the greatness they already have inside them.” --   J. Buchan

 

Schools unfortunately just teach knowledge not leadership. We seem to be facing a shortage of real leaders every day.  If knowledge alone is the key to leadership then why do we admire great business leaders, who were college dropouts or had little education like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? All of them became extraordinary leaders in their chosen fields.

Here are five reasons for the lack of leadership:

 

1) Knowledge/Skills - Wisdom

 

Even though schools teach a vast amount of information, they don’t teach how to apply the knowledge. Applied knowledge described as wisdom is not taught in school. Wisdom is the applied knowledge of how to resolve any kind of conflict, and generally not taught in schools.

 

 

2) Lack of practice/opportunity

 

There’s a lack of effective result-driven kind leadership programs at some universities, high schools and elementary schools. Even though schools try to fill this void, these programs don’t necessarily produce the best results. 

 

The lessons are generally a composition of organized knowledge, missing the importance of practical application and real-life experiences. The most important point that’s routinely missed is overcoming and managing fear as a limiting factor.

 

An effective leadership program must address fear, hesitations, shame, self-doubt, and self-manipulation to produce results and to transform the person into an effective leader. It should also include more than just role-playing but real-life implications. 

 

3) Lack of Confidence / self-manipulation 

 

I absolutely disagree with the saying that ‘leaders are not made, they are born’. Leadership is a combination of knowledge and experience that eventually leads to foresight and wise decisions. There is no magic since knowledge can be attained by anyone.

 

Experience only comes from doing, and can be learned by anyone who makes the effort. The second important part of leadership is confidence, courage, overcoming fear, learning how to become self-motivated and overcoming self-sabotage. 

 

This explains why role-playing scenarios can only produce limited results. An effective leadership program must be experienced in real-life scenarios and then immediately analyzed, coached and guided by an experienced mentor. 

 

The mentor must inform the mentee, not only about missing knowledge and skills but also address the mentee’s emotional state. The experienced mentor analyzes the mentee’s emotional state and demonstrates to the mentee any internal and external conflict that might be present.

 

Internal conflict would be self-doubt, lack of confidence, distrust, pessimism, laziness, self-pity, impatience, etc. External conflict would be arrogance, inconsiderateness, emotional coldness, aggression, egoism, ruthlessness, etc.

 

Confidence can be gained and learned only through accomplishment. That too is not magic but just following a task until fulfilled. Once reached, the person will gain a certain amount of knowledge and skill of his or her capability that will ultimately lead to confidence. This is especially true if the task is performed repeatedly.     

 

For example, public speaking can be learned by practicing and learning how to present the information.  Confidence through accomplishments. Knowledge, skill, and experience are either being taught in schools, university or specialized programs and can be attained through training and practice. The critical factor that produces leadership and leaders is how to manage inner and outer conflict.

 

4) Cost and affordability

 

The fourth factor why leadership and leadership skills are not as commonly available is cost. Schools that deliver on knowledge are plentiful. Since this knowledge is widely available, the “price for knowledge” is reasonably low. 

 

Advanced and specialized knowledge offered by an institution such as universities is generally more expensive.Specialized programs that incorporate practical application like MBA programs are costly and unaffordable for many people. 

 

Mentorship programs that go in depth and address more personal qualities and skills of the mentee might are costly and only available for high paying corporate executives. An effective leadership program must also be affordable. 

 

5) An embodiment of leadership/equilibrium


The last factor of leadership is that it must connected with resolving your inner and outer conflict. This is in controversy, not an intellectual process only, but must include the mind, the body and even the soul. 

 

At first, this might be a surprise for the intellect driven western world, but Asian cultures have known this for centuries. Every thought creates a bodily response in the body. A simple but easily comprehensible example would be the feeling that a person experiences during the experience of “love at first sight.” 

 

Simply put, the brain recognized someone else’s beauty and fabulous characteristics, while the body’s physical response is butterflies in the stomach area. Everythought and feeling produces a bodily response. 

 

Why do people eat out of stress? Why do people get prematurely grey hair? Why do people get migraines and headaches while under stress? Why do people under stress self-destruct by biting their nails? Why do people develop stomach ulcers? Why do people get stomach cramps or diarrhea before a test or exam? The list of physical reactions can be extended for pages. 

 

Summary

 

An effective leadership program needs to address the body and cannot be an intellectual program only.If we want to produce leaders, we need to put a system into place that instills confidence, trains real-life scenarios, and real-life practical applications. Such a system must teach how to resolve any kind of conflict, whether it be internal or external conflict. The system must be affordable.

 

Why is this not more known to the public?


Unnoticed and unutilized by the majority of the world, traditional Japanese martial art offers this within its training structure. The great benefits go unnoticed since traditionally martial arts have only been handed down within the culture. One could argue that are either destructive weapons or constructive weapons in society.


Examples of destructive weapons that society protects itself against would be guns, tanks, or even the atomic bomb.Constructive weapons would be a system that teaches its citizens to be more focused, more committed, more determined, more disciplined, more productive and healthier. This system optimizes the potential that rests within everyone. 

 

Martial Arts are generally for punching and kicking, while the educational values and deeper benefits are mostly unrecognized and unutilized by not only the public but by many of its practitioners. 

 

This might be done on purpose. Why would a society want to share any weapon, whether it be destructive or constructive with a rival society? This might explain why traditional martial arts were passed down from father to son, and over time, passed down only within the very same society and culture. 

 

Foreigners were only taught the superficial “kicking and punching.”

 

What martial arts offer

 

The martial art student undergoes through training small steps of accomplishments that lead to a higher level of confidence. Confidence allows vision since the lack of confidence shuts down our dreams, desires and visions.

 

The meditative and spiritual aspect of traditional martial arts combined with the physical exercises (body) teaches harmony and helps to balance internal and external conflict. This leads to peace and wisdom. 

 

Resolving internal conflict automatically leads to resolving external conflict. If nothing or nobody can upset you anymore, then an external conflict cannot arise. This should not be confused with the external danger or external aggression by a third party does no longer exist. However, the student is no longer internally in conflict with the external source.

 

Traditional martial arts are a very cost-effective way to gain health, self-improvement, self-development and self-cultivation. The physical, mental and spiritual growth works towards the goal of optimizing the potential of its practitioners. 

 

A student of martial arts will not only improve his or her focus, concentration, stamina, determination, and commitment but also learn to self-motivate, self-develop, and self-cultivate. 

 

For a student to advance, a great deal of time is spent between the student (mentee) and the Sensei (mentor). The Sensei will have to address all inner and outer conflict within the student. 

This is done to make sure peace and harmony are maintained within the dojo (the place all students train) but also helps the student to progress.

 

Martial Arts techniques that lack confidence, commitment, focus, heart, or anything alike expose the student’s inner conflict and will lead to ineffectiveness of the technique (body). Any technique that is driven by external conflict will create destructive power inappropriate to the situation and will be exposed. 

 

The student is permanently forced to address his/her inner conflict until he or she has balanced himself/herself and found stability, evenness, and consistency in a state of equilibrium. External conflict is monitored and improved through two factors. 

 

The first factor is that martial arts are trained within a group. Throughout the training, the group develops into a cohesive unit, where teamwork, team spirit, empathy, and a very highly advanced level of communication is developed.

 

The highly advanced level of communication should be addressed in short before moving on to the second point. Imagine a clip out of any military movie. The team is ready for an assault, silently communicates with just a few hand gestures to the point that every team member immediately knows what needs to be done. 

 

Any CEO, executive, or leader would be happy if this kind of communication could be transferred into the board room. How great would it be if a workgroup or team could silently communicate and immediately everyone would know what needs to be done. Hours could be slashed off meetings, professional developments, and staff training. 

 

Yet this kind of communication exists within the military. You can argue that it is possible since the need for communication within military assaults is limited but that would be too simple. A great deal of this silent communication is caused by: 

 

a) Team members having to spend much time together training side by side. This does not only ensure that every team member knows exactly the very same step-by-step approach but also 

 

b) Knows every team member’s “moves” and ways of thinking. 

 

c) Every team member not only has gone through the same intellectual process but made the very same physical experience by leading back to the importance of the body. 

 

The second factor is the Sempais and the Sensei

 

A sempai is a peer that is more advanced in experience (and most of the time age). A sempai is not at the level of the Sensei yet but has progressed on the way and in the art that he or she has enough knowledge and experience that he or she can be entrusted by the Sensei with some leadership duties. These small leadership duties serve two reasons; 

 

The Sempai helps to expose and address the students external conflict by sharing his or her own experience but secondly, these small leadership duties serve for the Sampai as practical exercises for more advanced leadership roles and duties. 

 

While both the Sempai and student are under the watchful eye of the Sensei, both are exposed to mentorship either as a mentee or a mentor. Beginner students learn how to listen (mentee) while tasked with simple leadership roles they need to fulfill and deliver upon with any student that comes after them. 

 

The student who comes after is a Kohai. A Sempai might be tasked by the Sensei to teach a particular white belt student specific techniques or forms. This student learns to follow the Sempai and learns how to be a mentee. 

 

However, this mentee is thrown right back into taking on leadership by teaching. For example, any beginner student after him or her is taught how to tie a white belt. Every student is exposed to the constant interchange of being mentee on one side while being a mentor on the other side to lower-ranking peers. 

 

These leadership tasks are determined by either the senior Sempai or the Sensei himself. Tasks that the Sensei determines are many times a combined lesson for both: the mentee as well as the mentor. 

 

For example, the Sensei gives the order of cleaning the restroom in two ways.

 

Version 1) The Sensei tells the Sempai to have the Kohai clean the bathroom.

 

Version 2) The Sensei tells the Sempai to show the Kohai how to clean the bathroom.

 

What is the difference? In the first version, the Kohai is cleaning the bathroom, while the Sempai is watching. In the second version, the Sempai is cleaning the bathroom, while the Kohai is watching.  

 

In the first version, the Sensei might recognize that the Sempai can clean the bathroom very thoroughly but has a hard time to delegate the same task. There are many reasons why. The Sempai might need to improve communication skills, might be embarrassed to ask for help and instead takes on the job himself. 

 

In this most likely scenario, the Sensei addresses the Sempai’s own internal conflict, while the Kohai learns to follow instructions and learns fellowship and the value of precise explanations and orders.

 

In the second version, the Sensei addresses the Sempai’s external conflict. For example, the Sempai has turned arrogant and has become “too good” to clean the bathroom. What a humbling experience for the Sempai not only to clean the bathroom but also to clean it under the eyes of a junior. 

 

The lesson for the junior is two-fold. The junior learns that no-one is ever too good for any type of work, and second, he or she learns from the Sempai through observation the correct way of cleaning the bathroom as expected by the Sensei. 

 

Solution

 

The same applies in the business world, while trying to nurture future leaders. It might be education and industry has unfortunately made the mistake of believing that observation, fellowship, and apprenticeship can be substituted through books and an intellectual approach. 

 

Martial Arts is easy to implement. Any clean and open space room can serve as a venue including the boardroom. Student needs no other equipment other than  a karate uniform called a Karate-gi. 

 

Martial arts benefits to future leaders

 

Practical approach to fellowship and leadership. 

 

Affordable and open for any gender, age, and social status.

 

Develop the mind, body, and soul of the student and server well enough to improve physical and mental health. 

 

Offer a very developed and holistic method of self-improvement, self-development and serve very well as confidence builder and teacher of discipline, commitment, and determination.

 

A perfect way of creating leaders and teaching leadership lessons. Traditional Martial Arts belong in schools, universities, and businesses due to their great benefits. 



This article was written by Sensei Marcus Hinschberger, a 5th-degree black belt, head instructor at Tokon Martial Arts, and inventor of the Touitou Training. 


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