The Peace and Power Equation
"To educate a person in mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society." -Thedore Roosevelt US President Brown Belt
There are lots of words of wisdom, grace and thoughtfulness from former occupants of the Oval Office when Presidents Day rolls around, lots of ideas that relate directly to our Dojo community and thge things that we do. But I keep coming back to our 26th Commander in Chief, since he's the only occupant of the White House to have practiced the martial arts.
Teddy Roosevelt would have run a great dojo, if he weren't so busy being a cavalryman, conservationist, police commissioner, author, Secretary of the Navy, Governor, Vice President and President. He was a ferocious fighter, but had a deep appreciation for the power of diplomacy. He was an avid hunter, but was also a champion of preserving wildlife habitats. He was a person possessed of both lofty ambitions and a strong moral code. He truly understood, in words every Dojo student knows, "peace over power."
At the beginning and ending of every Dojo class, before and after we practice punching, kicking and taking each other to the ground, we pause with our hands in the "peace over power" position to bow and show respect to each other. That recognition of each other, and that promise to treat each other as equals, is a cornerstone of our training. So is discipline, self-control and integrity. To practice violence and sharpen fighting skills without also fostering these values in ourselves is nothing short of irresponsible. As Teddy Roosevelt himself might say, it's not enough to just carry a big stick through life; we must also know how to speak softly in order to be a force of positive change in our world.