Be who you are and strive to become your best with that as a foundation. With a good foundation there’s no limit to what you can build.

A legend in his own mind.

Who am I? What have I done? Who am I to stand on this soap box pontificating? In all actuality I am nobody. At least in the eyes of the world at large. To my parishioners I’m pastor or Reverend Miskel. To others of my church family I am Elder Miskel. To some in the religious community I am Dr. Miskel. To my martial art family I am Sensei, Shihan, Hanshi, Soke, Grandmaster and any of several other honorific titles but in reality I’m no-one special. John the Baptist said that he was a voice crying in the wilderness. Though I don’t equate myself with anyone of John’s greatness I am just another voice. So what gives me the nerves to get up here and voice my opinion? I am just a person that sees trends and directions in the martial arts with a propensity for transliterating. I am opinionated and I will and do write.

I am a minister and according to rank and the opinion of my peers I’m a martial art master. Combine the two and mix well and this is what you get. I can’t claim to be the conscience of the martial arts but I know what I see and I’m very concerned about what is right and wrong with the martial arts. I have a great love for the arts and those who teach and practice them. My life is ministry and I see everything through those colored glasses. Everyone doesn’t approach the arts from that direction and many have other views concerning spiritual matters and varying philosophies. Consequently I can’t expect everyone to agree with everything I say or believe everything I believe. I do however expect my brothers and sisters in the arts to stand for what is right and good in the arts and in the world at large.

Those of us who are senseis, masters and grandmasters have a responsibility. We are teachers and we mold and often give direction to the lives we touch. Traditionally martial art instructors were not just teachers of the fighting arts, they were life coaches. That’s a heady position to occupy and a great responsibility to fulfill. We are or should be held to a higher standard. Many times people put the wellbeing of themselves and their children in our hands. We should be of good character to fulfill the purpose that lies before us.

Too often martial art instructors are bigger than life and have strong personalities. Unfortunately sometime big egos go along with the package. Many people got involved in the arts because they were seeking control of their lives. Many had been bullied, misused, unaccepted or cast aside. The martial arts gave them a sense of empowerment and a more positive self image. Many have gained self confidence along with the self defense that the arts claim to enhance. Unfortunately many of those that reach teacher or master rank are still the same insecure little boys or girls inside. Because of that they are often overly defensive and confrontational if they perceive themselves backed in a corner or their worth called into question.  People of that nature let their insecurities govern their conduct and their actions. They tend to be self promoting and will attack anyone who questions their credibility.

The Courage of Self: Be Who You Are and Strive To Become Your Best

This is the real world that we live in. Life isn’t always easy. It’s seldom fair but this is the world that we live in and we have to learn to negotiate our way through its dangers and its land mines.  We have to learn to live in this world. The real world not some imaginary rose garden that we may perceive the world to be or think that it should be. We have to be honest with ourselves and have the courage to be who we are. It isn’t important to have the admiration and accolades of a fickle world to be of value. It’s a fact that if the world puts you up it can take you down. If it makes you it can break you. We have to garner the courage of self. It isn’t necessary to be a hero or a legend to be valid in our worth and our contribution to society. We need only be ourselves.

It is important to learn to love ourselves if we are going to be satisfied with who we are. I’m not encouraging egotism but love definitely flows from the inside out. It’s difficult to love others if you don’t love yourself. Pure love comes from God. It is a holy estate that imitates the very nature of God. The Bible says that God is love. It’s impossible to be a child of God or a follower of Christ without implementing this virtue. You can’t love God without loving your neighbor. But that’s an argument for another article. This isn’t a religious treatise. This is a martial art article written for a martial art forum.

Jessie Jackson had people chanting the now famous, I am somebody. It may sound simplistic and elementary but maybe we would do well to implement that same mind set. You have worth. It isn’t dependent on you doing something special or proving yourself to be magnificent. You are special because you are who you are. You are what God made you. He sowed heavily into your human potential. What you do with that potential is up to you. If we believe in ourselves we won’t have to constantly go outside of ourselves for validation. We start out with what God made us to be and then we are shaped by our experiences and the lives we live. We can’t control everything around us but we can control how we allow it to effect and shape us.

Many depend on us to be the best that we can be. That includes our family, friends and our students. That begins with being ourselves with no explanations made or apologies given. We don’t have to constantly justify who we are. We just have to be true to who we are and start from there. With that as a foundation we can build a legacy worth passing on.

Be who you are and strive to become your best with that as a foundation. With a good foundation there’s no limit to what you can build. And remember, my martial art brethren. You are somebody. God made you and God don’t make no junk.

God bless you, my brethren. Train hard and go with God.