Just why do so many martial arts end in “-do”?
Do, Dao, Tao - They all translate to mean “the path” or “the way”. Many martial arts reference this concept in the name of their style; Tang Soo Do, Karate-Do, Aikido, etc. The list goes on and on. The theme comes up constantly, so it must be a very important concept, right?
Any true martial art contains within it this concept of “Do”; if it doesn’t, it’s just a method of mindless fighting. A martial arts teacher isn’t simply teaching their students to beat people up. They are modeling individuals to be righteous and have outstanding character. Tang Soo Do, the martial art that I am involved with, contains within it 14 attitude requirements for proper training, five codes and seven tenets to live by. These concepts are not only to be used in the dojang but applied to everyday life. I’m sure that many other martial arts have similar doctrines that they teach their students. The fact of the matter is, your martial art is expected to be your “way of life" your “-do”, if you will.
So now you have to ask yourself. Do you live your martial art? Your response might be, “Sure, I practice every day, wherever I am.” But how do you practice? Do you practice with intent or do you simply go through the motions? Are you making the effort to reach deeper understanding or are you waiting for your instructor to spoon feed you everything? Do you live the principles laid out for you by your instructor or do you forget about things like respect to others and service to the community once your uniform is off and you are out the door? It all comes down to you asking yourself what type of student you want to be. Do you want to be a martial artist or simply someone who does karate? To be a martial artist is to let the training change and mold you. It is to become completely immersed in the pursuit of improving mind and body. As you advance in training, your goals also encompass the enhancement of others as well. The very nature of your training can inspire others to accomplish what you have. Teaching others the skills you have learned can help you to take them to the next level. In a way, you’re not training someone to fight, you’re training them to live a certain way. You lead them down a certain path...a “-do”.
Success in a martial art takes time and dedication. Doing the bare minimum to move along will result in a bare minimum change in yourself. Everyone is capable of greatness, they just have to be willing to immerse themselves in that in which they wish to become great. It has to become part of who you are not something you just do. The greatest martial artists eat, sleep, and breathe their art. It’s more than the physical training. It’s about the traditions and philosophies passed down through the generations from instructor to student. The “-do” is most important; you have to be willing to travel it, pay attention, and let it change you.