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In youth, we tend to equate courage with daring and/or with violence and aggression. Some people grow up and pass through that stage. Others do not. They remain juvenile delinquents throughout their lives. They are consumed by the need to prove that they have worth through besting others. This is because they simply don’t feel, inside, that they have any value.

None of us are perfect. All of us have things in our past that we are proud of and things that we are not so proud of. I certainly have things in my past that I would have handled differently given the opportunity to do them over… Don’t you? The truth is that we cannot go back in time and do them over. But we can start each day by trying to be the best person that we can, in all that we do. We can each be a glowing example of, and demonstrate the honor and integrity often talked about but sometimes not evident in martial arts. I’m not talking about besting others. I’m talking about using each problem we encounter in our daily lives as a challenge to do better. I’m talking about using each challenge as an opportunity to develop our personal level of character and integrity. This is where true courage is shown.

Our goal should not be to convince others about how great we have been or how great we are now. We all have things of which we are proud. All of us, at times in our lives, have fallen far short of perfection. Being perfect is something none of us will achieve. Our goal should be to aspire towards perfection of character. The martial arts can be a great tool for this if not tainted by ego, selfish goals or self righteous pride. True courage surfaces when you abandon the easy road and brave the more difficult path, when you know it is the honorable way to go. It surfaces when you are more interested in helping others than in having them think that you are a big-shot. It shows when you are able to do the right thing, even if your peers think you are a coward for it, or when there may be a cost to you for doing the right thing. It is easy to do the right thing when there is no risk. What separates the men from the boys (and ladies from the girls) is when you do the right thing despite the risk.

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