We usually hear that martial arts are designed to develop a selfless person - one who exists to serve his or her art, community, or some purpose larger than him or herself. This is certainly true, but sometimes the proper focus in training is on yourself.
At times when things don't go exactly the way you'd like, focus on yourself rather than on the person who may have caused your dissatisfaction. Instead of thinking, "he didn't attack me the way he was supposed to," it is more productive to think, "how could my response have been more effective?" That way, you are constantly improving your martial arts skills, making you a better practitioner, a better demonstrator, a better competitor, or better at self-defense.
Our philosophy is that every action is an expression of the inner person. If we want to be great martial artists, we can get better by always focusing on the improvements we can make in ourselves, rather than on the perceived shortcomings of others.
This is true outside the dojo, as well. Physical beauty fades, money is external, strength diminishes over time. Beauty of the spirit, however, always shines through. When you face a challenge, ask yourself, "how would the person I want to be respond to this?" If someone irritates you, remember that it is you who is irritated, not necessarily the other person who is irritating. Instead of lashing out, respond the way a secure, kind person would respond. If you do so often enough, you will become that person.
JMAC would like to thank the many Ann Arbor businesses that support this blog, both martial arts-related and others, including: Network Services Group, Art of Japanese Swordsmanship, Shudokan Martial Arts Association, Budo Mind and Body, Art of Judo, Iaido Dot Com, Lorandos and Associates, Oxford Companies, Bluestone Realty Advisors, Portfolio Ann Arbor, Invest Ann Arbor, the Law Office of Nicklaus Suino and the ITAMA Dojo.