Absolute Commitment To Improve Ourselves Now!
I came up with this acronym in 1996 after being inspired by a motivational speaker about the importance of taking small steps in order to create success. This was during the golden age of the Mission Statement. Everyone was using the “buzz phrase” and even if this doesn’t constitute the definition of a Mission, I have always come back to it as a driving purpose for myself and how I view Martial Arts training.
The senior ranks of Attitude First also recognize that it is the Ultimate Purpose of Attitude First and put it as such in the UMAS “Precept.” I believe it does define the intent behind all of the “actions” we take on the mat in every class. Every choice we make is with the intent to improve some aspect of ourselves. Every act that happens at this moment is done with the intent to make us, the predicament, and the moment (now) better.
Here is the way I view it- Training self-defense, although about the individual, can never be fully realized without interaction. It is the interactions; spiritually, perceptually, physically, intellectually, and emotionally that require defending at any given time. We, the members and participants at Attitude First must come together with a united attitude that we will help each other to move beyond a victim mentality and together will guide one another to improve and achieve levels of success in any of our endeavors. Remember, success is subjective. For now, let us agree that setting and achieving goals and overcoming challenges are measurable indicators of improvement. If we can realize improvement we are on the path to success.
Here is the concept that every member and participant should instill as they step on the mat. Absolute– Not diminished in any way. Commitment– The state of being dedicated to a pledge or undertaking. (I get it, Youth and even sometimes Adults don’t fully appreciate the commitment. I feel if not fully understood it can’t be fully embraced. ) Consider for a moment if everyone participating fully embraced the purpose that during this moment in time (this specific training opportunity) every choice, every ACTION was about Improving Ourselves.
I realize determining what is being improved is somewhat vague and subjective. Ironically, I wished that was part of my design, but admittedly I have come to recognize as its true beauty in improvement is vague and subjective nature. Everyone in class will get something different from each and every class. Ideally the “nugget” they capture will be the cornerstone of the improvement they developed at that moment. For Example: One participant may develop the awareness of better balance in a position, where another with feel more coordinated moving into the position even though they both worked on the same exercise.
I have to personally admit it took me a while to fully embrace but now I can truthfully admit with every “preparation” for class- each and every class- each and every day (I’m on the mat a minimum of 5 days a week.) I open my thoughts to focusing on improving both myself and those in the class.
Just as honestly there are days I feel I “failed.” My message wasn’t understood. I watch participants leaving class looking dejected and not enthusiastic. For a long time in the past, I would agonize over these moments. Today, not so much. Now, I note the “miss” and use it as an opportunity to improve the message. I commit to improving my teaching process. Just as if I were unsuccessful in preventing getting punched, I don’t quit… I keep working at it until I get it right. I keep working to improve my percentages (My teaching process.) In fighting, I get hit 7 out of 10 times, then 5, then 3 and so on. In teaching a specific lesson; only 2 people got the lesson, then 3, then 4 and so on.
I share the previous paragraph to let each of you understand that “Ourselves” is pretty powerful. The teacher needs the student just as the student needs teacher. The Martial Artist needs an antagonist just as the antagonist needs the victim. We are connected and need to work together in a relationship in order to set the standards that we use to measure what we recognize as improvement. We are all in this together-each playing our rolls, each with a purpose.