Improve the Whole Self
One of the main things that separates White Dragon from the vast majority of other schools is our focus on improving the whole person. Our aim has always been to go beyond just teaching self-defense and combative sports, in favor of a more complete approach that strengthens mind and body. Why? Because the body cannot be strong if the mind is weak, and visa versa.
This approach comes from the great tradition of Chinese martial arts, which has at its roots a system that focuses on improving the entire person. The Shaolin Temple, for example, was not only well known for producing awesome fighters, but also individuals of high moral character. Individuals that were so revered for their good will and good judgment that they often became leaders in their communities.
At White Dragon, strengthening the whole person starts with instilling core values. These values are martial ability, martial spirit, positive attitude, discipline, health, responsibility, humility, and respect.
Notice that martial ability is at the top of the list. We are martial artists first and foremost. So, the school’s training is designed to produce students that are capable of defending themselves in any kind of threatening situation that might arise. At White Dragon, we use the desire of the student to become a skilled martial artist to motivate him or her to embrace the rest of the school’s core values.
The training we do to develop fighting skill is intended to be difficult for a reason. The intensity of the training itself is meant to challenge us on every level. When we face those challenges well we develop martial spirit, the school’s second core value. Martial spirit is the highest level of self-confidence. And, when we test ourselves repeatedly through rank tests, tournaments, sparring matches and difficult workouts we increase our reservoir of martial spirit. We develop the will to never give up on the goals and values we find most important.
The school’s third core value, positive attitude, challenges us to stay positive at all times, especially when dealing with others. Negativity destroys the creativity we need to solve problems. It also destroys our ability to think clearly and use good judgment. By committing ourselves to always think positively, we stay focused on finding solutions to our problems and on taking steps to improve our lives.
Discipline is the school’s fourth core value because nothing of any worth can be achieved without it. Discipline is what actually leads us to do all of the hard work required to accomplish our most important goals. Being a disciplined person starts with making and keeping promises to yourself and others and following through on your commitments. No plan can succeed if you don’t show up and do the work.
Improving health has always been a central goal of most traditional martial arts, and that’s why health improvement is the school’s fifth core value. All of the elements of the martial arts workout contribute to the health of the student. The training at White Dragon lowers blood pressure, increases cardiovascular endurance, builds muscular strength, relieves stress, improves flexibility, and makes you feel great. White Dragon instructors also go out of their way to stress the importance of proper nutrition, getting enough sleep, and avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol, which can put our health at risk.
And, if we’re going to stay healthy we have to train with the aim of avoiding injury. That’s why we teach our instructors safe training practices so that students don’t get hurt, and why we train our students to look out for each other during combative workouts so that students don’t injure each other.
At White Dragon we value responsibility as a core value because it is one of the primary ways we as humans find meaning in life. The roles we take on in our lives: student, teacher, father, mother, brother, sister, etc. all carry with them loads of responsibilities, that when lived up to, have a profoundly positive effect on our lives and the lives of others. By doing what we say we’re going to do we demonstrate our dependability to others, who are then more likely to lend a hand when we are in need.
Humility is a core value that enables us to learn from others. By always viewing our accomplishments with modesty we preserve the attitude of open mindedness needed to keep learning and growing. Even those we view as less knowledgeable or accomplished have something to teach us. We just have to be humble and observant enough to learn from them.
Last but by no means least, respect is a core value that is front and center in the training at White Dragon. Just because we know how to fight and are stronger than most does not give us license to exploit weakness and intimidate or bully others. Martial arts are a tool to be used only in life threatening situations or to protect others who are in danger. By demanding that students demonstrate respect for themselves and others we try to prevent the misuse of the fighting skills we develop. Just think of how many confrontations could be avoided in our world if only people respected each other a bit more.
When the White Dragon student embraces and then cultivates all of these core values to a high level we see them transform into individuals that are capable of accomplishing almost anything. Parents who brought their shy 8 year old to White Dragon years earlier now see their child teaching classes at the school, excelling in academics and school sports, and becoming a responsible young adult who’s getting accepted into a top university. Adults with potentially serious health issues have reversed their conditions and are now able to do activities once unthinkable a year earlier. Students with learning disabilities find improved ability to concentrate and improve academic performance. People with addictions find a more healthful way to socialize along with the strength to stop abusing substances. People with disabilities find that they are capable of doing so much more than they ever thought they could.
As White Dragon instructors, these kinds of student stories are what we live for, and why White Dragon has been around for almost 30 years. The satisfaction that comes from helping people transform their lives is huge, and it’s why our instructors put so much effort into training their students.
Read The White Dragon Difference: Part 2 in our upcoming blog post.