Word of the Month: Humility

Some concepts are easy to explain with words. Humility isn’t really one of them. We can talk about it – and we do, as part of our character development program – but in order to help people understand humility, we have to make sure they can experience it.

As Sensei Cody Diesbourg explains, karate is excellent at teaching humility because it has a lot of ups and downs built into it. Students have to master particular sets of skills before they’re allowed to move to a higher belt, and without humility, we would have a hard time improving ourselves. But what sets us apart at Douvris Martial Arts is that our program includes a healthy dose of competition.

First, each student is competing against himself or herself. We practice our techniques, working on them until we get better than we used to be. We’re also competing against fellow students, for example when we spar in class. There’s a winner and there’s a loser at the end of every match, and losing sparring matches forces students to look inside them to think of ways they can improve and fight better. Then there’s competition against other martial artists at tournaments; and how competitors deal with challenges and setbacks is what makes them grow. Win or lose, there are lessons to be drawn from these experiences.

“The unique thing here at Douvris,” Sensei Cody says, “is that we have so many great instructors that are there to help you through those teachable moments, to help you understand how to get better when you’re at the top, and how to improve when you’re at the bottom.”

This doesn’t stop when students reach their black belt. For one thing, even if a black belt meant you were at the top of your skills, you would still have to work hard at becoming better because people who are at the top and don’t keep improving tend to go down. Second, as Sensei Cody explains, a black belt really means that “you’re a master of the basics. And it’s a funny concept because everyone thinks the end game is the black belt. But really that only opens up new doors, new opportunities.”

In the end, the purpose of humility is to help us get better. Learning to be humble, when we win and when we lose, is what will help us achieve goals we set for ourselves – at school, at work, in the dojo, and anywhere else.