Tradition gives us roots into the past, innovation keeps us reaching into the future, and etiquette gives us a way to behave in the present.
There are three pillars to any worthwhile practice, martial or otherwise. It must have roots that tie it deeply to some real human need, desire, or problem. In addition, it must also be forward thinking so as to address these in a way that does not become obsolete over time. Tying these together, it must also include a framework for mindset and interpersonal behavior, such that the practitioner finds value and meaning in the practice beyond the practice itself.
Tradition ties us to history, but not for its own sake. Ideally, tradition tells us who we are by telling us who we were and who we should try to be with regards to our essential natures and needs. While tradition binds us to what is necessary, once our most fundamental human needs have been met and our basic natures satisfied, we are driven to innovate, to create, and to reach for that which was previously thought impossible. As creative beings, we must try to make positive change in the world.
It is our code of behavior, however, our social morality if you will, that guides us so that we relate to tradition and express innovation in a way that is useful to the community we are a part of. Etiquette is more than simply a set of socially acceptable behaviors. It is an unspoken bond of trust, a tightrope of mutual compassion expressed between individuals for the common good, and it is through etiquette, partly informed by tradition, that we build a foundation upon which to move into the future together.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.
Street art photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh, artist unknown unless otherwise noted.
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