First of all, we want to congratulate you on your recent promotion. It has come to you through your dedication, hard work, and perseverance. Your new rank is a mark of distinction, and should be worn with pride and honor! Yet it should also serve to remind you of your beginnings, and of humility and service to others. Below are the seven precepts in the Code for a “Judo” rank holder. Read and study them carefully!
The first precept in the code is LOYALTY. Loyalty is due your parents, community, country, sensei, dojo, system, and your Creator. Many people are responsible for your success and have given freely with great love to guide you. Your instructors have dedicated their time, great energy, and even much of their very lives toward your instruction and advancement on the path. Remember however, that Loyalty is not blind, but recognizes the “true heart” and the sincerity of its direction. Understand this ancient saying: “Where the heart is true, the sword is true.”
The next precept is SERVICE. You must sincerely help and serve others as your teachers and others have served you, openly, honestly, and willingly. Danzan Ryu JuJitsu is perpetuated by the concept of Service. You teach to others what you have been given. At first, this must be under the supervision of your sensei, but when you earn your Black Belt, you will be authorized to share these teachings without direct supervision. Service is one expression of the “Golden Rule”: Do for others as you would have them do to you. But do not let this gift be a cold and bitter duty. Let your service come from your heart, from love, and it will bless you and others in ways that you can’t even yet imagine!
HUMILITY is our third precept. Even though you may rise to a high station in life, or gain great skill and achieve many victories, you must always remain humble and respectful of others. You may win a contest one day, and lose the next. Remember, there is always one greater than you. Listen to the “lowest” man’s story: he may reveal a great truth to you. Prof. Estes, my teacher and Judan of Danzan Ryu, often told us that he would learn something in every class from his students, even beginners. You are as a piece of sand at the beach and you are here at God’s invitation. The Creator makes his sun to rise on the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong, the good and the evil. He loves all his creatures. Remember your place….the greater you become, the more you must remember humility and service to others!
RIGHT EFFORT is the next precept. An advanced student like yourself should! strive for perfection in all your techniques and in your behavior as well. As the Great Teacher told us: be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Honestly recognize your shortcomings and strive to eliminate them. Do not dwell on your mistakes; rather let each effort be a new beginning!
RIGHT ATTITUDE is next. Never seek to harm another. When others seek to harm you, redirect their energy so that you can help them. In your heart, bless them, you must remember that there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself; and therefore become neither self-demeaning nor arrogant. Compare yourself not with others, but with yourself. Are you a better person today than yesterday? Avoid negative thoughts and emotions! Fear, hate, envy, jealousy, anger, resentment, etc. have no place in the mind of a true martial artist! Also avoid those who would dwell upon such thoughts. Rather, be realistically optimistic in your attitude, expression, and action! See yourself as a positive, powerful force for good in the world! When challenged in life to right action, let your attitude reflect these words: “I can and I will.”
The sixth precept is RIGHT CONDUCT. You must be trustworthy, courteous, honest, brave, and kind. Your behavior is more than a reflection of you, it reflects on your dojo, your sensei, your Ryu, as well as all the significant others in your life. What you say and what you do, both on and off the tatami, reflect on your character as a person and as a martial artist. The pride you have in your rank, your Ryu, your dojo, etc. will remind you of your honor and of right conduct.
The seventh and highest precept is to LIVE TO A GREATER PURPOSE. As important as you may become, there is One greater in this universe. He goes by many names, yet all fall short of His Majesty: Adonai, El Shaddai, Elohim, and Jehovah Rophe, etc. He is the Great Spirit, unbound by space and time. You must take time each day to commune with Him. Seek Him in the silence; seek Him in Spirit and Truth! The most authentic and most ancient authorities on the martial arts all agree on this: all your efforts toward “perfection of character” must ultimately be directed toward inner communion with the Creator, the Lord of All. Understand this, you are more than a mind and a body; these are but the temporary residence of your living soul. Many challenges lie ahead of you. Some may appear insurmountable! View them not as problems, but as gifts from the Divine, as great opportunities for personal growth. As you continue to practice much wealth and power may come to you. Do not let these mislead or misdirect you from the path! Seek to overcome the desires and riches of this world. Seek rather God’s love through inner communion with Him.
To paraphrase an ancient Chinese proverb: a journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. You have taken that step and may God bless you and your efforts on the path.