Word of the Month: Service


When you think about karate, you’re likely to think of certain words like discipline, respect, “karate chop”, strength, Bruce Lee, push-ups, sidekick and so on. One word that may not immediately come to mind is service. And yet it is a central value in a dojo.

As Sensei Cody Diesbourg explains, “if it weren’t for service and people paying it forward, we wouldn’t have martial arts today. Martial arts still exist because practitioners have devoted themselves to helping new students learn by passing their knowledge down, generation after generation.”

Most of the words of the month we discuss in our Striving for Excellence program at Douvris Martial Arts focus on ourselves and how we can become better people. But with service, Sensei Cody says, “you have to look beyond that. You have to go outside of you and look around to where you can see different opportunities to help people.”

This service mentality applies everywhere: at the dojo, at home, at work, in school. But it requires us to think less of ourselves and more of others, and how we can be of use to our fellows. And one beauty of service is that it doesn’t have to be spectacular to be worth it. Sometimes, simply smiling at someone will help make them feel better, and encourage them, in turn, to smile at someone else. On and on it goes, one small gesture of service multiplying itself and spreading out through the world.

Acquiring a service mentality takes practice, and that is one reason why we spend time at the dojo talking to our students about it, reminding them to work on it, and making them understand that the more they help others, the more they appreciate what they themselves have. Helping students develop their sense of service will make them less likely to fall into the entitled-mentality trap and that, we think, is a goal worth fighting for.