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Creed Chronicles: How to Grow Your Mind

A young martial arts student smiles after receiving his green belt.

Before every class, our students here at Basche’s Martial Arts recite our Student Creed. The Student Creed establishes what every student is training to attain when they walk in the door. From our youngest Little Tigers to our senior students, every student is training to develop the values of the Student Creed. But what do the different parts of the Student Creed really mean? In this series, we explore the deeper implications of our Student Creed.

I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health.

I will develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.

I will use the skills I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and my fellow man, and never to be abusive or offensive.

I shall respect my parents and seniors, and always abide by the black belt creed.

Courtesy
Modesty
Perseverance
Self-Control
Indomitable Spirit

Student Creed

Avoidance

When most people hear the term “martial arts,” they instinctively think of kicks, punches, and other strikes. Yet, one of the most important parts of martial arts is avoiding getting hurt. You have to avoid your opponent’s strikes if you want to stay effective while throwing your own. The skill to avoid getting hit is one you develop over your time as a martial artist, but it’s also useful when you aren’t fighting. If you avoid threats to your physical and mental health, you’ll live a happier life and be more effective at everything you do.

Mental Growth

As martial artists, we hone our minds as well as our bodies. And just like you can make your muscles bigger by training, you can also make your mind stronger. Mental growth is just as important as physical growth. You can train your body by exercising, but how do you train your mind?

Practice Optimism

Is the glass “half-empty” or “half-full?” The answer, and the perspective behind it, is a reflection of your mental state. An optimistic perspective on life makes you more resistant to stress. Optimism also lowers your risk for depression and other mood disorders. The benefits of optimism don’t stop there.

“Where the mind goes, the body follows.”

-Sensei Basche

Optimism has a positive impact on your physical health, too. It can lower your risk for heart disease, lower your blood pressure, and even make you more resistant to disease. While those are great benefits, aren’t people just natural pessimists or optimists? The great news is, anyone can train to become optimistic.

Here at Basche’s Martial Arts, we teach techniques to make even the most grizzled pessimist more optimistic. One of the ways we do this is by always staying positive, and that positivity starts with how we talk about ourselves. When you talk about yourself, always speak positively. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it,” say, “I can handle it.” Instead of saying, “I’m weak,” say, “I’m strong.”

“If you look at your face every day when you get up and think you’ll never be great, you’ll never be great.”

-Nathan Feuerstein

Connect with Others

People have a deep-seated desire for community and social connections. When we don’t have that community, we start to feel isolated, and that can have serious consequences for your health. Luckily, even the most introverted among us can find a community.

Having a community of people supporting you does wonders for your mental and physical health. At Basche’s Martial Arts, students always cheer for each other during drills and offer their support. We’re all invested in seeing others succeed, and we make sure our students take that mindset with them even outside the dojo.

There are many ways you can connect more closely with others. Even the way you dress can help you find new friends and build your relationships. As for more active techniques, one thing you can do is compliment people when you see them. If you know someone has recently won an award, tell them how proud you are of them. If someone has recently gotten a haircut, tell them how nice it looks. Even if there’s nothing specific, you can always tell someone how great it is to see them. Most importantly, be sincere when you speak.

Find Your Purpose

A sense of purpose can greatly improve your mental health. When you have a sense of purpose in life, you can set goals that match that purpose. For example, if your sense of purpose comes from having a great family, you can set goals to get married and be a better partner or parent. Sensei Steve Basche found his purpose in martial arts. According to Sensei Basche, “My purpose is helping as many people as possible grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.” To complete his purpose, Sensei Basche emphasizes leading by example. “It starts from the top. If I want other people to grow, I have to show that growth myself.”

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how.'”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

No matter your purpose, your life will improve when you gain one. A sense of purpose helps reduce stress and direct energy toward growth. Many martial arts students find a purpose they didn’t know they were searching for. The distractions of your life disappear when you focus on training, allowing you to find your purpose. We also practice meditation, which puts our mind at ease to help us find our purpose.

Obstacles to Mental Growth

Now that you understand a little more about how to grow mentally, it’s important to know what can get in the way of your mental growth. And once you know what to watch out for, you can avoid those obstacles.

Stay Optimistic

There are many events in life which can challenge a positive outlook. Maybe your car breaks down or your boss criticizes your work on a project. Events like these can be obstacles to your optimism. But just like any obstacle, you can get over these obstacles. Instead of getting mad and kicking your car, say, “It’s a lovely day for a walk.” When your work is criticized, tell your boss, “Thank you for this learning opportunity. I will improve and do better next time.” Make an effort to always find something positive about every situation.

Maintain Positive Connections

Even the strongest bodybuilders need to constantly work to maintain their strength. In the same way, you need to work to maintain your relationships. If you made a friend at work but no longer work with them, send them a text or call them once in a while. Give people small gifts or just note down special events in their lives and remember them. Give them a card on their birthday or anniversary or ask them how a recent vacation went. These might seem like small gestures, but they add up in big ways. Even if someone moves away from you, it’s important to keep in touch. You never know when they might come back into your life.

However, this advice does not extend to people who are stopping your growth. Some people are at different points in their life and may try to hold you back. They may discourage you from going to school, getting a better job, or making new friends. If you talk to them about these topics and they keep discouraging your growth, it’s okay to distance yourself from that person.

“You can love people from a distance. Just wish them well in their journey.”

-Sensei Basche

Stay Focused

Once you find your purpose, it’s important to keep that fire lit. Life has a way of throwing plenty of obstacles in our way. Overcoming those obstacles is often one of the ways life stays interesting, but they can also lead you astray. When your faith in your purpose starts to waver, remind yourself what inspired you in the first place. If you were inspired by martial arts, come to class. Play your favorite song for fun if you’re a musician. Whatever you do, always stay hungry.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

-Robert Burns

Conclusion

Every time you come to class, you make the choice to grow. But you don’t just grow physically; you grow mentally as well. To make sure you keep growing, it’s important to avoid anything that would reduce it. That means you need to make the effort every day to stay optimistic. You also need to maintain healthy relationships with your friends, family, and other members of your support system. Finally, find your purpose and stay focused on it.

To continue on your journey, come to class at Basche’s Martial Arts. Have a fantastic day!

Jacob O’Dell

May 31, 2023

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