Who is the ideal martial arts student?

Who is the ideal martial arts student?
Some visitors who came in to observe a martial arts class one night, noted the adult students starting to clean the training area, like they always do after class. The visitor asked, “Why do you make them clean the school?” I answered, “I don’t make them clean the school. They are free to leave at any time.” Not saying anything, the visitor looked at me like “Yeah, right.”

Now, the visitor was correct in thinking that I did have something to do with the students cleaning up after class. But the visitor obviously considered cleaning as a punishment, or “beneath” the students. This misunderstanding is common, and begs the question: what is the role of an “ideal” martial arts student?

As an adult starting a new martial art, I must understand that, in terms of the martial art, I know nothing, and accepting this reality is difficult for Americans. All of us want to feel “competent” in whatever we are doing, even when we are just starting out. But this is the very first step in learning how to extinguish our ego; our arrogance that we “know something.” Once we accept that we know nothing, it becomes liberating. We stop worrying about how we are perceived by others, and concentrate on learning what we are excited to learn.

But even this is not the primary requirement to becoming an “ideal” student. What makes the ideal student is; the student is willing to learn whatever is required in order to become a better person.
For example, when the student cleans the school after class, the student is learning to respect and appreciate the surroundings that allow them to become a better person. When the student says “thank you” to their partner each time, they are learning that their partner is assisting in their own self-improvement, and this must be recognized.

This willingness to learn whatever is required is not easy. It requires great trust in the instructor to guide the student in their self-development. It requires the student to give up their ego, and their own control, and allow others to help them. However, the benefits from this mentality become priceless. The student starts to excel past his peers, and become a person of power and integrity.

So, at least during your martial arts class, give up your control, and allow others to help you become a person of power and integrity. Become the ideal martial arts student.


Todd Alan Roberts M.D. is a physician and the chief instructor of Aikido of Nebraska, a martial arts school specializing in mind/body/spirit development in kids and adults, through the teaching of traditional martial arts. The school is located just north of 33rd and Pioneers Boulevard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.