Taking Stock-Moving Forward

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Dec 31st, 2011

The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generation
s have done.
- Jean Piaget

This is a time of year when many of us “take stock” and try to gain some perspective on our past, the present, and our future. The Martial Arts Learning Community (The MALC) as an agency that provides services to martial artists is not a traditional vertically integrated (rank based) organization. The MALC offers an unusual structure, as it allows an associate to only take out as much as they put in. This structure has assisted our associates to identify some of the fallacies that are common to Martial Arts study, for example:

  1. I am my rank or position. Martial Artists often fail to recognize their position as a part of a larger enterprise or purpose. Instead, they see themselves as an inconsequential part of an organization or system over which they have little influence, leading them to limit themselves. This reinforces the expectation of the individual to only receive from, instead of contribute to, the Martial Arts as a whole.
  2. The enemy is out there. Conflict is the perceived incompatibly of one with another. There will always be people that you will deal with, but not always agree with. We all have feelings of discontent; its how we deal with them that makes us who we are. The standard for Martial Arts, as well as, other endeavors and products, continues to vary. Perceived incompatibilities need to be viewed from each of the three points of view (yours, the other person’s, and a bystander’s) to be appreciated. Understanding these differences, being professional and considerate of others until it is time to take action, is a part of being a role model, a mentor, and, finally, a black belt. Change is always outside of one’s comfort zone and hardly ever immediate. There is no blame, only responsibility for one’s actions!
  3. The Illusion of Control. The harder you push, the harder any original process or system pushes back. Confidence stems out of preparation. Everything else is beyond your control. Keep in mind that most Martial Artists are alarmed by this idea and often their reactions develop from their lack of understanding of this dynamic and their perceived lack of control. We love to control others; but the study of the Martial Arts should teach us, the only one we need to or can control is, ourselves. Personal goals can only be achieved through preparation and training.

Here are some examples of the accomplishments for TheMALC in the last 3 years:

  1. During that time, this group of martial artists consistently published two articles each month. These pieces of writing were not a single artist’s Blog or “Martial Arts net discussion”, but well framed, edited, and organized commentaries. The articles, though varied in their content, showed the importance of maintaining a shared vision between associates. This article is being posted in our 75th newsletter.
  2. Testing during our 2010 Residential established a model of recognition and certification of Black Belt status with titles, instead of “Yudansha” ranks. This perspective, that the (1st through 10th) hierarchy model for black belt ranks established for the Martial Arts by Jigoro Kano for his Kodokan is of limited merit 150 years later, allows TheMALC’s associates greater leeway to exchange ideas, critiques, and feedback without waiting for approval from a “more senior” black belt.
  3. The direct exchange of ideas and accurate and informed commentary, as well as, the formal presentation of research and thesis projects are a primary reason we held our October Residentials. These Residentials, one in each of the last five years, represented a proper Seminar environment. Although the word seminar is used often in the Martial Arts, see this newsletter for a more precise definition for the term.

As for looking to the future, our readers may look forward to seeing some of the above mentioned research and thesis projects turned into viable products that they might find beneficial; and the next Residential could be a real surprise!

"Although a new idea may be sound, it is difficult to obtain approval from everyone."
- Ed Parker


Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

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