Guide For Martial Arts Student
Your prime objective should be to achieve the “Way”. To do so, you must fortify the body with endurance, the mind with discipline and wisdom, and the heart with courage and patience. You must liberate yourself from attachments that disturb, confuse and limit your growth in order to attain full and complete freedom. You cannot free yourself of your body, but you can free your mind through the strict discipline you gain from training. Totally train your mind, heart and body. When your mind is free, you become peaceful, happy and loving. You are free to become one with the Universe. Along the “Way”, you attain personal growth and maturity through a process of continual metamorphosis. To encourage this development, use the Three O’s Principle as a guide to your training: • Open mind (oneness). “Empty your cup” to gain understanding and stimulate your thirst for learning. In other words, do not let preconceptions cloud your ability to receive new inspirations. • Open heart (togetherness). Do not be sensitive in the passive “Way”, thus allowing yourself to be hurt. Instead, be sensitive in the active way in order to be understanding, compassionate and caring toward others. Dissolve your ego and unify yourself with others. • Open arms (forgiveness). Develop the need to act and react. Reach out to others and share together. Put all you have in your mind and your heart into actions and achievements. The dreams or visions of today are the achievements of tomorrow. Goals of the Martial Artist When students set out upon the “Way”, they must strive to develop more than technical skills, for technical abilities are transient. The goal of traversing the “Way” is to become a better person and develop: • Responsibility and maturity. A responsible and mature martial artist has a sharing, caring, and loving attitude. • Self-confidence. A self-confident martial artist has a positive attitude and plenty of determination. • Patience. With yourself and others. • Empathy. Empathetic martial artists use their analytical and synthetic abilities to understand the strengths and weaknesses of others and to maintain a perceptive and receptive attitude. • Leadership. Through hard work and perseverance, martial artists set good examples for others by their deeds, and are the last to enjoy the fruits of their labors. • Originality and creativity. The martial artist loves perfection. • Communication abilities. The martial artist displays thoughtfulness and tactfulness in both written and oral expression. • Public speaking ability. When addressing the public, martial artists are charismatic, using good expression, eye contact and a strong voice to show their enthusiasm. • Dedication. • Courage for personal sacrifice. Training for the Martial Artist The technical component of any martial art is the principal tool with which the artist works to achieve the “Way”. To use this tool to its fullest, the student must: • Train with a competent instructor and develop absolute discipline. Trust in the instructor and belief in the techniques being taught is paramount. • Be willing to work hard. • Persevere throughout daily and lifetime training. • Discover personal abilities and mental and physical potentials through self-exploration. • Create personal challenges daily from different aspects of the martial arts. • Learn from other instructors and classmates, and develop an awareness of other martial arts styles. Responsibilities of the Martial Artist To maintain a sense of honor, martial artists must set good examples and take pride in their individual accomplishments. Everything that martial artists do reflects upon themselves and those who taught them. Therefore, the martial artist must always be aware of their responsibilities: • To their style. • To their senseis and school. • To their fellow students. • To themselves. Eight Sources of Learning for the Martial Artist While class work is a vital component of training, the martial artist must not impose limitations upon learning. To have the widest spectrum of learning opportunities, the martial artist can find invaluable insights from: • Senseis and sempais. Martial artists must give instructors their full attention and have trust in their competency. • Seminars. The martial artist can find insight into the “Way” from martial arts seminars as well as seminars in other fields: Zen, yoga, meditation, gymnastics, ice skating, ballet, running, music, weight lifting, etc. • Mirrors. For self-analysis, such as seeing the front and side view of each technique, these tools can be invaluable. • Training equipment. A kicking bag, jump rope, makiwara and other tools can increase endurance and provide additional feedback. • Classmates. Using a buddy system can provide an element of friendly competition that spurs the development of both partners. • Tournaments. Exposure to other styles is crucial for understanding them as well as developing Cuong Nhu. • Media. TV, magazines, books and videotapes can all provide important tips and insights. • Oneself. Commitment, determination, and the application of the Three O’s Principle can result in many self-revelations. Etiquette Within the dojo (the training hall [jo] where you seek the “Way” [do]), all activities are governed by the respect of the students for their instructors, instructors for their students, and students for each other. One demonstrable way in which you as a student express this respect is to follow these rules of behavior: • Self respect and respect for others is the hallmark of training. • Address all black belts as “sensei” (followed by their first or last name). • Be quiet during meditation. • Attend class regularly. If an absence is unavoidable, inform the instructor in advance if possible or when you return to class. A similar courtesy is required if you know you will be late to class, or have to leave early. • When late to class, do pushups, then bow in to the instructor. When leaving class early, bow out to the instructor, then exit quietly. • Always get permission before leaving class temporarily (for water, etc.), unless you become ill. • Bow to your partners before and after training with them. When working with a partner, keep talking to a minimum. Resist the urge to constantly teach your partner. • Pay strict attention when the instructor is talking, when being corrected, and when questions are asked and answered. • Be on your best behavior when in the dojo. Don’t be a distraction to your instructor or your classmates. • Do not joke or fool around during class. Take your training seriously and concentrate on what is being taught. • Do not talk with people outside of class during a session. • Always maintain proper body discipline and posture when in the dojo. When receiving instruction remain upright. If sitting, sit still in seiza, or with legs crossed in front of you; if standing, stand still in natural stance. • When lining up, ensure that the person in front of you and to your left is of equal or higher rank. Make sure you are even with the person in front of you and with the person to your left. • Do not walk through lines or in front of another class; always go behind and around. • Practice only the techniques taught in class. You are responsible for all techniques taught when you miss class. Ask your classmates what you missed. • Spar only when you have permission and with a black belt present. • Inform an instructor immediately if another student is injured or becomes ill. • Obtain your instructor’s permission before attending any non–Cuong Nhu martial arts functions (tournaments, seminars, training camps, visits to other dojos, special classes, etc.). • Keep your gi (uniform) clean, neat and in proper repair. A dirty or torn gi shows a lack of discipline and respect. A white gi must be worn for all tests, seminars, and special functions whether you are participating or simply observing. Children must wear a white gi at all classes and events. Do not wear your gi outside of the dojo (pants may be excepted). • Test only when your instructor gives you permission to do so. While this permission indicates your readiness, it does not guarantee that you will always pass. You still must perform well in order to avoid probation or failure. • Wash your face and hands, remove jewelry, watch, and trim nails before class. Wash your hands after class. If you are accidently cut, treat the injury immediately. • Do not eat or chew gum within the dojo. • Do not wear shoes (except practice shoes ) onto the mats or practice floor or wear hats within the dojo. • Bring all relevant problems—personal, physical or technical—to the attention of your instructor. The Ranks of Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Colored belts denote the level of ability and indicate the rank of the wearer. Our rank levels start with the beginner, who wears the white belt. There are one and two green stripe levels attained before the green belt which is achieved after approximately one year’s training. Next are two levels of brown stripes, the brown belt, two levels of black stripes and the seven degrees of black belt leading to the rank of master. Our Cuong Nhu levels each tell a story. Earning the ranks represents the life cycle of a tree. The white belt is the seed or gemma — the beginning. Then the young tree breaks ground and develops its first tender branches and leaves; this is represented by the green stripes and the green belt. As the tree matures and becomes firmly rooted, it develops bark and grows stronger; this is represented by the brown stripes and brown belt. The black stripes are like the tree starting to flower and produce other seeds. Finally the seeds are sown and the cycle begins anew. This is why it is often said that at the black belt level you truly become a beginner. Returning to Training after an Absence When returning to work out, you must train slowly and consistently, even if just one day a week, gradually working back up to a safe level of training. For example, a kata class is an excellent way to return to training. Do not feel embarrassed to start again. Be kind to yourself first and don’t compare yourself with others or where you were before leaving. Just train and have fun. Returning black belts should not be expected to teach. Instead, they should be encouraged to work out for themselves at whichever class level they feel comfortable. Remember, black belt is the beginning.