“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).
If this quote is to be the goal of leadership, then we need to come up with a system that aims us towards this goal.
If we look at leaders of today and the leaders of yesterday we find that we admire them for certain character traits that made their accomplishments happen.
What are those character traits?
- AND Confidence.
None of the traits mentioned above is neither a subject in schools or a course at the university, or available as an online course. This might be the problem why many of us can not reach their full potential and why corporations are desperately looking for ways to develop these traits in their employees.
We all are born with certain character traits that are more or less developed within us but NOBODY has them all and we all need to work on the missing ones to gain our full potential.
While the lessons that we need to build the missing links can came from all kind of directions wouldn’t it be great if there would be some sort of organized way or system to help everyone to develop them? Or at the least give anyone a tool to develop them? A tool of self-development and self-cultivation? A system that companies, corporations, organizations or even schools could implement to get the best out of their people?
At first there seems there is no way that such a holistic system could exist but mankind has been around for thousands of years and there was plenty of time to figure thing out. We might just don’t know in which direction to look.
In this article I want not only show that indeed such a complex, and holistic system does exist but also explain it in more detail.
Traditional Japanese martial arts such as Karate offer such a system within its training structure. While the technical skills such as the kicking and punching have been spread around the globe with much amaze, its hidden benefits and deeper wisdoms and goals are unknown to most since the martial arts wisdoms have only been handed down within the culture of the Japanese society and stay hidden for the outsider.
The difficulty to recognize the hidden values and lessons within martial arts is that they are not visible. Martial arts training always has two sides.
One side is the visible, that is expressed in the kicks, punches and strikes – or short the technique. The second side is what lays hidden within: it is not visible because it is within the body, the thought process, the mental attitude and the spirit.
This second side can only be discovered through extensive practice and not through observation. There lies the difficulty and also the reason why it stays hidden to the outstanding observer (and most Westerners).
But with corporations and companies spending thousands of dollars on team training, employee development, leadership training and so on, isn’t it time to look at a more effective and more cost effective solution? Especially since this solution has not only proven itself on the battlefield but also stood the test of time.
Let’s get to it and dive into the physical, mental and spiritual side of the martial arts to gain some better understanding.
Martial arts training is unique since it confronts its practitioner with dualities. To mention a few: fast vs. slow, hard vs. soft, tension vs. relaxation, high v.s low but most defining: life vs. death.
A martial artist is permanently confronted with dualities and learning how to balance them. A student that executes a technique that is lazy, lacks confidence, commitment, focus or anything alike will be not effective and can not serve for self-defense.
A student that is driven by egoism, aggression, inconsiderateness or recklessness will use his/her martial arts skills inappropriately and/or inflict excessive force and cause fatale damage to the training partner or use his techniques in a situation that does not require self-defense.
The student must learn to master the internal and external conflict and dualism within him/herself.
Or differently put: The student must learn to balance him/herself and find equilibrium.
Egoism, Aggression, inconsiderateness to mention just a few are signs of conflict within a person that finds expression externally.
The lack of confidence, commitment, focus, laziness and others are signs of internal conflict that expresses itself internally.
The training of traditional martial arts addressed the internal and external conflict within its practitioners.
Questions: What do you as a manger or leader, – or YOUR company, do to actually really address those conflicts? What do you, or your company, do to grow in conflict management?
When was even the last time you have actively worked on any of those character traits?
Don’t you see those conflicts flare up on a constant base in board meetings, staff training and during communication with co-workers?
Let’s explore how we can free the greatness that rests within us.
As mentioned above we need to train 1) focus, 2) commitment, 3) determination, AND might most important 4) confidence. How is this done?
1) Focus is the capability to stay on task and not get sidetracked or disturbed by any outside distractions. This can not be compared to the lack of focus in other sports. If one lacks focus for example in the sports of soccer, the opponent will score and in the worst case the match is lost. There is no further consequence.
However the lack of focus in the martial arts means either injury to oneself, the trainings partner or in the worst case death to either one.
Martial Arts training is all about teaching the student how to focus.
2) Martial Arts training requires commitment. Not only the kind of commitment that any sport or activity requires – the kind of commitment of “I showed up” or the kind of commitment that is needed to execute thousands of repetition to engrain correct technique.
Rather the commitment that is necessary to execute a technique that one can save his or her life with.
Martial Arts training is all about teaching the student the HIGHEST level of commitment. The commitment that is required in martial arts is unique because it must save ones life.
3) Determination is equally important since a technique can only be successful and live-saving if executed with determination.
It might be that commitment is more physical and within the body, while determination might be more mental and even spiritual.
This is of great importance as I will explain further down while discussing confidence.
4) Last let’s discuss confidence as one of the most important aspects of greatness.
Confidence too is intellectual as well as physical. There is on one side the knowledge and skill required but on the other side the control of the body once one is thrown into a situation.
Even through one might holds the knowledge and skill that is required the body can be (and is indeed) the limiting factor.
Everyone knows about sweating hands, butterflies in the stomach and if the meeting is important enough, or the audience large enough, then the butterflies turn into stomach cramps, diarrhea or even vomiting.
Our body has a physical reaction to every thought and feeling and the better we learn to control our emotions and thoughts the better we are capable to control our physical/bodily reactions.
Martial arts training is all about the student learning to control thought, emotion and the body.
A martial art student undergoes through the training many stages step by step, where he/she accomplishes something new in every stage. These accomplishments increase the individual’s level of confidence.
One could say that the system is build on a formula: accomplishments create confidence.
Accomplishments within martial arts are unique and of much different quality since the student faced with life or death develops a different kind of understanding that is as much intellectual as physically embodied within the body. This is something that is almost completely unique to the martial arts only.
Students learn through “small junks” on and within their body that a goal is within their reach by breaking it down into smaller goals.
The unique and difficult to comprehend part is that the intellectual understanding usually does follow only years later – since usually there is never an explanation given by the instructor. This seems especially for the impatient westerner a problem since results are expected immediately.
However, the results are already in the workings since the student’s physical, mental and spiritual transformation has already started – it is just the intellect that is not used to this kind of lesson that needs much more time to grasp the changes within.
It needs to be highlighted that this type of confidence becomes of intellectual nature as well as physical nature within the body.
The student’s confidence level increases within the body by getting emotions, feeling and thoughts under better control.
Through this constant progress and accomplishments the students gain more confidence, which feeds further confidence and the openness to reach for more challenging goals:
Accomplishments create confidence
This is of upmost importance since intellectual and embodied confidence allows vision, dreams, and desires.
How many times do we freeze up, are physically paralyzed because our body has not learned to overcome. Many great ideas and dreams come to a hold right there with the body being the physical limitation putting the dream, goal or idea to an end.
This is the point where determination and confidence merge.
Confidence makes things happen while fear and self-doubt is paralyzing. Most people believe that we are put on earth to find and then fulfill a purpose. However, most people will never make the next step and try to fulfill their purpose. Why? Because they are paralyzed by fear and self-doubt and with that the question arises, how much of that purpose are we truly able to find and fulfill?
This might be one of the most important questions mankind has to ask itself and why gaining confidence and practicing determination is anyone’s business.
The best way of learning to be more confident is by incorporating the body so lessons learned are as much intellectual as physically embodied. Reading yet another book about confidence or listening to another lecture won’t do it.
Martial Arts is all about teaching the student to be more confident.
Within the structor of martial arts classes students train not only through special exercises focus, perseverance, commitment and determination but also train those traits because of the nature of traditional martial arts within.
Corporations, businesses, organizations and institutions are desperately looking for capable executives and mangers as well as for solutions to develop and guide their employees to more efficiency, better communication, and health not realizing that a perfect system naturally exists within the structure of traditional Japanese Martial Arts such as Karate-Do.
These traits can be developed naturally in employees, managers, executives and leaders by simply implementing martial arts training.
Martial Arts training is physically and mentally challenging and demanding. This creates a very tight weave between its practitioners. This tightness, feeling of belonging, team spirit and unity might never be matched with team building exercises, team meetings, or any rather superficial approach.
Bleeding together, in preparation for battle, has no comparison and this is why still as of today in most Japanese corporations we can find not only martial arts dojo for recreational and health purpose (talking healthcare costs) but rather to strengthen the cooperation, communication and team spirit between the executives, managers, and employees.
Why not simply implement martial arts classes into businesses, organizations and the corporate structure? To be sustainable and to survive the demands of the futures corporations, institutions and businesses should consider establishing martial arts programs as part, if not THE part, of their employee development program and proactive health care.
Traditional martial arts are a very cost-effective way to health, self-improvement, self-development, and self-cultivation of its practitioner.
The training builds community and the unique skill of verbal and none-verbal communication between its practitioners.
The physical, mental, and spiritual growth, works towards the goal of optimizing the potential of the individuals. The 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. This means that a true student of martial arts will be poised for leadership and that he or she can lead others.
Any organization, institution, corporation or business that wants to stand the test of time and wants to survive might want to come back to a system that the Samurai have already figured out hundreds of years ago and still proofs itself in the great productivity of Japan.
If institutions are looking for a system that develops the best out of they employees then let’s not look any further. Traditional martial arts will be the future of team training, employee development, staff training, and professional development.
This article was written by Sensei Marcus Hinschberger, a 5th degree black belt, head instructor at Tokon Martial Arts and the inventor of Taitoku Training. Sensei Marcus teaches through his Taitoku Training Program corporations, management teams and executives how to optimize their potential, productivity and efficiency.
If you want to learn more about the benefits and hidden secrets of the martial arts and how your company, business and institution can benefit from it feel free to contact Sensei Marcus (email@example.com)
Call us at (916) 835 – 7717
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“My child can not focus” is something that many parents approach us with when they come to our Karate school. We train with our students the ability to concentrate, increase the attention span needed, and how paying attention in class will help them at school, life, and professional success. Kids with ADHD are easily distracted and have trouble focusing but by improving concentration and focus; we can help them to be more functional. We teach our students how to eliminate distractions by enhancing their focus. Read below about the great benefits of traditional Karate or visit our blog for more.
Sensei Marcus Hinschberger also owns Taitoku Training. This is a coaching company that was designed to specifically help players in the business world increase productivity through a curriculum filled with self-development and self-transformation classes, team training classes and leadership classes. This curriculum has helped companies increase productivity, teamwork and resultantly profits. If you know any CEOs or corporations that want to take it to the next level, ask them to visit Taitoku or contact Sensei Marcus directly at info@TaitokuTraining.com.
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