|The Robbery photo By gcfairch|
I screw up often when I teach. I get things wrong, I slip, stumble, misspeak, let myself get hit by my students, use the wrong words, or misremember facts. If a mistake can be made, I've made it. But I always do my best to acknowledge and recognize this humbly. My mistakes are my most important teachers. Training is not real if there are no mistakes. Teachers are not real if they don't allow themselves this honesty.
I've met many martial arts instructors who are terrified by this. They must always project some kind of superhuman perfection to their students and others. They only demonstrate with uke's who make them look good. And they won't try anything that could make them look bad in front of their students.
Show truth in your budo. The only way your budo can be effective is for you to train honestly. Be honest with yourself and with your training partners or students.
Kan Junichi told us this story about a visit to a U.S. military base with Hatsumi Sensei:
"Near Albuquerque there's a military base. We all visited that base with Sensei and as we were walking in there were cameras everywhere. Sensei said, "Don't speak with words, speak with your eyes." And then Sensei was giving us directions without speaking but by using his eyes.
There were many people watching and Sensei asked us to do a demonstration. Then a military instructor came and stood three meters behind Sensei and pulled out a gun, then asked, "What would you do in this situation?" . Sensei replied by putting his hands up and saying, "I can't do anything. I leave my life up to you."
Then everybody watching began to clap. The instructor told Sensei that many other martial arts instructors had done demonstrations before and they all tried something like a back kick or grabbing dirt off the ground to throw it. The gunman said to them, I am much faster on the trigger than you are with that kick.
So then he bowed to Sensei and said, "Thank you. You are real."
He continued on to say, "There are three ways to make martial arts teachers from Japan happy: One is with Sake; Another is by letting shoot exotic guns; And the third is by having pretty women there." But Sensei turned down all of these.
They had all manner of weapons and machine guns available. They brought a bunch of ammunition, rounds… They said here, go ahead shoot all these guns. Sensei said, "I don't need that." I don't need women. I don't need Sake."
The truth is like this. It's really nothing. At three meters here, of course the gun is faster. You try to throw sand or kick, you're finished, right? And so Sensei showed the truth here in his gesture. And I thought that was very important when I saw this."
Show the truth in your training. Show it to your students, but more importantly... to yourself.