The Importance of Friends

December 2016


Most likely you have heard that the Martial Arts is more than just a physical discipline; that it is a discipline that develops both the mind and body. The presence of mind that the Martial Arts demand helps us to make wise and thoughtful decisions. Often these decisions involve choosing others as friends—and all of us need to choose friends well.  I heard a new item this week on TV where they reported some young men were shot by police during the commission of a crime. The grandmother of one of the youngsters who was killed commented that “he was not a bad boy, but he got in with a bad crowd”.
We obviously want to make friends with people who are “good guys”.

It is sometimes very mysterious why we choose who we do as friends. Often we like a person immediately based on some intuitive thought or feeling. Other times we observe someone for a while with admiration, and build up to a formal introduction. Friendship is a wonderful thing, often beyond words, and is sometimes sparked by an almost electric power of attraction. This is what gives friendship such a strong and almost magical power to tie people together so closely. All the same, our first impressions can be mistaken. There is no way to be certain that everybody you choose as a friend will turn out to be a “good buddy”, but Martial Arts schools are a terrific place to meet new people. Many life-long friendships have begun in the Dojo. Here are some tips on how to choose friends that might be right for you:


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(The respect and self control that is part of the sparring process allows students to become friends, despite the tendency to be competitive!)


Look for people who share the same basic values that you do. Karate teaches you certain values and principles that you should know to look for. Honesty, respect, self control are all good qualities that a lot of people share. Having friends with these qualities will make it a lot easier for you to feel relaxed and at ease when you are with them.
Look for people who respect your decisions. Your friends may have different tastes than you do, but they should respect your freedom of choice, just as you should respect theirs. Sometimes you may think that a friend is not making a positive choice, or a friend may feel that you not making a positive choice. Discuss these issues. Nothing is more important to friendship than open communication and honesty.
Look for people that are team players. You know what that means: people who are willing to stick by you through thick and thin, will be there when you need them, and will show you the understanding that you in turn give back. A friend that you know you can depend on can be a friend for life! There will be times when you think that a friend of yours is consistently making bad choices, or is not treating you with respect. The Martial Artist takes pride in understanding: try to see where your friend is coming from, and try to resolve any differences that you might have. Feel free to speak to your instructors. They have the benefit of experience, and are always looking out for your best interests. There are very few things as precious as having good friends, and you should not let them go easily. Hold onto your friendships; let your friends know you value them and do your best to solve problems as quickly as they arise. Trust your instincts and follow your heart!