I was recently reading through an old SRSK newsletter, and there was an article about kigurai by Superman Sensei that keeps popping back into my mind. I wish I could reprint the entire article, because it is a concept I find hard to explain.
“Kigurai is a Japanese word meaning to be proud, or to have poise and dignity. It involves elevating ourselves above the things in life that sometimes seem to try to drag us down, or tarnish our attempts to live a life that rises above the petty failings we all share.” -EV
One of the things the article said was that a worthwhile goal of a martial artist is to learn to not sink to the level of those who would try to bring us down, because it distracts us from our goal. To act with aggression towards someone who is being aggressive towards us only takes away our dignity. The confidence we possess must be able to withstand the attempts by others to undermine it, no matter how mean-spirited those attempts may be. In order to have true respect for others, we must first have self-respect, and that involves only the need to prove your worth to yourself, not anyone else. There will always be people in our lives who try to bring out the worst in us, and maintaining our poise is one of the best ways to defeat that.
When I was having problems with a particular new student in Jiu-Jitsu class, Conan told me that I should not allow them to “get” to me, and he said that in his job as a police officer he frequently deals with people who try everything they can to get a rise out of him, but he is not allowed, under any circumstances, to sink to their level. No matter how rude they are to him, he has to treat them with respect, and he can’t let them get under his skin. I believe that is a excellent example of kigurai. It is a quiet form of confidence, and it doesn’t need action, or reaction, to make itself known.
We cannot control how others treat us, the only thing we can control is how we react to it. From now on no matter how hard people try to make me feel inadequate, to elevate themselves by bringing me down, I will not let them. No one is ever going to steal my sunshine from me again.
“I was lying on the grass on Sunday morning of last week, indulging in my self-defeat…
And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done, so I missed a million miles of fun.” -Len