Discipline: ‘Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement’
How could discipline be enjoyable? 

The word conjures up images of harshness, seriousness and self-denial. Dictatorial instructors teaching people who snap into immediate action. Focused students that sweat through hours of hard training without a break. Though discipline can be something that is unpleasant, with the right mindset and delivery it doesn’t have to be.

The Shape of Discipline

Discipline is so often executed with a bad attitude that people quite often think that it has to be that way. It doesn’t. Real discipline isn’t something that comes from harshness, and in fact forcing someone to show outward discipline by shouting or reprimanding them only works to develop bitterness and resentment – not personal growth.

The shape of discipline within any group is determined by the leaders, people who should get their authority from respect that’s been earned by hard work and integrity. It’s critical that these people demonstrate self discipline in order to act as a model for those who are in their charge. Coming together to create something that’s amazing, to grow together through doing the hard work that’s required, that’s when discipline can be shaped into something enjoyable, something more than just a tough experience to be suffered through.

It’s ok for discipline to come in the shape of enjoyment. It’s ok to smile while pushing through the discomfort of a challenging stance or the ache that comes from doing that kick for the hundredth time in a row. It’s good to grin when that last push up barely makes it up and down again.  Again we see that leaders set the tone, and that great martial artists display a tone that shows the pleasure that comes through pushing themselves.

Pride, Self Esteem and Self Respect

It feels good to do things that push us. It feels good to take on challenges and to conquer them. When we make something happen through self discipline, it gives us a warm wash of pride in ourselves, a pride that’s fun.  Self esteem doesn’t come from being told how wonderful you are, it comes from feeling as though you’re something worthwhile. No one can give another person self respect or self discipline, these are things that can only come from within. So the discipline that instills self esteem and self respect also isn’t something that can be offered to you by another person, it’s something that has to come from within you.

How do martial arts schools create a positive environment of discipline that instils a lifelong yearning to keep at it? By allowing students to discover the pride and fun that can happen with discipline. That means instructors being tough when it’s appropriate to push students, but also not being in this for their own ego development. Discipline should not come from someone in power imposing their ideas onto others. Schools that are driven by a passion for the good that martial arts can do in the lives of people foster good habits in discipline, and turn out students who are able to live life with pride, self esteem and self respect. And of course fun.