A Choice to Control

When people think of martial arts, they typically think of discipline right after they think of kicking and punching. However, I like to add one four-letter word prior to discipline — SELF. Discipline implies that one is being trained to obey, whereas self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

At WTD we use logic, compassion and dialog with our students so they may learn how to control themselves and their feelings. The very first lesson we teach every child is that in order to protect yourself, you must first learn to control yourself. Not “let me control you” or “have someone else control you” but “control yourself.”

As the flight attendant explains to passengers, “please place the oxygen mask on yourself prior to helping anyone else in need.” We are no good to ourselves or anyone else if we do not learn to take care of ourselves first. This is not selfishness. This is an intelligent choice we need to make on our own. In an emergency we may not have the time nor our ideal disciplinarian lurking over our shoulder to remind us what to do first.

The earlier we start the habit of self-discipline the earlier we free ourselves. This in turn frees those around us from having to correct our behavior. After all, what could be more freeing for an adult or teacher than watching our children and students freely make intelligent choices in life?

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