The word “element” has several meanings depending upon the context of how it is used. Generally an element is like a building block. It can stand by itself but produces completeness or perfection when interwoven with other complementary elements (think “legos” but for adults).
In Japanese philosophy there are 5 elements or “godai” that are the building blocks of life and are found in nature – water, fire, void, consciousness…you know – kids stuff.
Through many years of martial arts training I have identified 6 elements, or building blocks, that a majority of black belts attain and refine as part of their foundational character. The 6 Elements are:
- Indomitable Spirit – the strength of personal will (just do it)
- Dedication/Loyalty – unquestionably counted on (reliable to a person or cause)
- Centered Harmony – command of self and situation (grace under pressure)
- Internal Morality – the ethical treatment of others (do the right thing)
- Leadership – external action to achieve a vision (establish direction and set the tone)
- Sharing Knowledge – giving back to others through teaching (Be Your Own Master)
The 6 Elements provide a framework for articulating major aspects of personal development through martial arts training. Note that the bolded phrases at the end of each of the elements is meant to provide some context. Is “Centered/Harmony” really just “grace under pressure”? No, it’s much more than that. But the context gives you some underlying idea of what the element is about.
The DNA of an Element – How do I “just do it”?
Let’s look at this a little further. The element I refer to as “Indomitable Spirit” isn’t immediately tangible to someone that has not trained for a long period of time. The Western idea of “just do it”, which is part of this core element, does make sense to most people. The attributes that surround this such as:
- Pushing yourself when you don’t want to
- Failing for the purpose of succeeding
- Moving past a goal all contribute to being more productive.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone could sell you a bottle of motivation to do all of the above? To “just do it”? That would be great but it’s not going to happen. At least not easily for most people. What we can do is delve into what kind of actions, attitudes and steps can be taken that get “doing it” into a unconscious habit.
Many of the blog postings I will write about on Black Belt Guide will speak directly to the 6 Elements. Others will be ideas, principles, attributes and concepts that are inspired by them but are more practical and tangible explanations. And I’ll include steps you can take to develop them so they can be used in everyday life situations. Now, go pick up your elements because a cluttered mind is like a dirty room. And you thought your Mom wasn’t a Zen Master – think about that.