The Warrior’s Meaning of Integrity
The Warrior’s Meaning of Integrity
What Exactly IS Integrity?
Integrity, these days, seems to be somewhat of a tricky word that has become hard to truly understand over time. When we think of a person we hold in high regard or respect we tend to think of words like honesty and character. However, these words and this idea often cloud the definition of integrity making giving it a vague description at best. We talk about it, but we have some difficulty trying to define it, and applying it holistically as a Warrior is impossible if it’s a concept that not fully comprehended.
Nevertheless, that’s what we’re here for! Integrity is a powerful word from which we get many other words like integrate and integral.
It describes two or more things merged together to create a more stable whole. In metals, for example, two or more can be joined together to create much stronger compounds as determined by their strength and stability. Iron is unstable. Steel, however, which is a compound of iron, carbon, and several alloys, is iron-made stronger and more flexible as a result. So strong that it’s able to sustain the long-term reliability of high-rise buildings for many years. On the other hand, when alloyed metals degrade they are referred to as losing integrity; and, as such, the metal disintegrates.
Integrity is a Virtue
Integrity for humans is the same. It’s not a “behavior” as much as a combination of things. As we experience life we learn and develop beliefs and values. When we take action in line with those beliefs and values, we are acting with integrity. Honesty is the behavior of telling the truth; integrity is the union of our belief (that honesty is the best practice) combined with our outward action (of actually telling the truth).
Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say!
Sometime in the 1950s to 1960’s a popular saying among parents was, “do as I say, not as I do.” During this period, adults began to behave in scandalous ways in front of their children in a desire to freely express themselves. Free expression was the mantra of those decades. An observant child would notice that she/he was taught to turn the other cheek on Sunday, although dad got into bar fights almost every Saturday night. The ideas of virtue started to become an incongruent message from one generation to the next.
As a leader, one must adhere to the rules they teach others. You must subscribe to your own lessons. “Say what you mean, and mean what you say!”
Be An Example for Others to Follow
If you are going to model integrity for your students, and others under your leadership, then you must “walk the walk.” Be an illustration to them that living an integrated life is a healthy choice.
I once had a student ask one of our front desk team if they could wear socks on the mat, and without a pause, Renshi Ross jumped into the conversation and asked the student if they had ever witnessed Kaiso wearing socks on the mat? The point is that our leaders talk the talk and walk the walk. If you have witnessed them doing it on or off the mat, why do you think the rules would be different for you. You teach your students to live with integrity by the way you live your life.
If you want to teach others to respect their bodies, you must exhibit integrity by showing respect for yours. Whether we’re talking about healthy habits like making choices about smoking, drinking, body composition, and not respecting a diet it’s all the same as personifying the ideals of always being honest, you must exhibit integrity by always being honest with them and those around you. And, on and on it goes.
Consider how you live your life. Are you living a life with your actions integrated with your values and beliefs? If so, you are living with integrity. If not, you can begin now. Become the model you want others to subscribe to. Living with integrity every day.
Maintain Your Integrity
In conclusion being a Yudansha (black belt level student), or being a fully licensed Sensei (teacher), or simply being a Senpai student to a Kohai, you must embody these values. In life, it’s easy to sometimes justify or reason yourself into being correct. In Waza (technique) you cannot lie to yourself. If the integrity of your structure is compromised you will see what is compromised exactly. Which makes the metaphor so valuable.
As you learn to be honest with Waza and look for the parts that fail, you in turn can use this same self-reflection to look at what part of integrity as a virtue, you’re failing at. Instead of easily covering it up, a Warrior stares it in the face, accepts the truth as it is, and starts on the correction process.
In Bushin Ryu you will not have success until you accept your duty to yourself and grow to the point in which being self-aware is an automated process. No assigning blame, or reason it away. A true Warrior moves a spotlight onto the weakness and immediately goes to work so that their character is as strong as their technique and martial power.
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