My Tribal Standards

I have two standards for my associations, regardless of whether they are personal or professional. The first requirement is that I like and respect you. The second that you like and respect me.

If one of these standards is not met, I find it very difficult to move forward. In my experience, there is no personal, financial, or positional gain worth having if I have to associate with people or institutions I do not like and respect and who do not also like and respect me.

This may seem overly simplistic, perhaps even naive and childish, but I have tried many different combinations of relationship in my life and this is more an explanation of my experience than of my ideology. This is not some belief I have. It is a fact of my being.

Simply put, life is too short to be wasted on relationships within which there is not a mutual sense of appreciation and values. This does not mean that we must like all things about one another nor that we agree on every issue. That is an unrealistic impossibility.

It does mean, however, that in order for me to want to give my time, my attention, and my energy to a relationship with a person, an organization, or a community, I have to first trust and respect their intentions and also know that they trust and respect mine. As Sebastian Junger said, “The easiest and most basic definition of community, of tribe, would be the group of people that you would both help feed and help defend.”


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.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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