Grandmaster Rose 01/1998 Winter Address

C&S Self Defense Association

Dear Students and Friends,

One of the topics we cover constantly in class and outside of class is that of character. Character implies many meanings depending on who you are talking to and in what context the conversation is being held in. To us, as Martial Artists, character implies soundness and purity of spirit. And from there, we can extrapolate a whole raft of behaviors, attitudes, and thought processes. But key to character is belief in ourselves. Without that, we not only cannot accomplish anything of substance, but we also cannot feel good about ourselves.

People who have character, do not cause problems for others; they have too much respect for themselves. This is not to say that the person of character behaves "properly" out of fear for bad consequences for bad actions or out of desire for reward for good actions. Rather, the person of character behaves in a way such that the good feelings that they receive for their positive "right thinking/right living" are reward in themselves. Having character is the way of the warrior.

The warrior works hard for their own personal self development as this leads directly to right thinking/right living in our everyday interactions with the society we live within. The warrior believes in himself, and it is through this belief that the warrior can thus positively affect the lives of others. What higher goal can one aspire to than to help another become strong and to have a better self image. It is the task of the warrior to be an example of right thinking/right living. The warrior achieves this through self belief strengthened in the personal self confidence gained in the practice of our art. Dedication and discipline are not accidents: they are direct products of ones character.

If you work hard you earn not only others, but your own respect. With hard work comes advancement. True, sometimes the advancement is not commensurate with the amount of work done, but the warrior does not judge himself by the amount of the advancement but rather from the quality of experience in that advancement. And the warrior learns from this process. And he improves with each iteration until he lives without fear. Fear is our biggest obstacle to achieving true belief in ourselves. The warrior knows this; that is why the warrior continues to work even when others view that work as done. The warrior believes in himself and of the fulfillment of the self through the process of personal self introspection. The elimination of fear is the warriors true work. It is a task few are willing to undertake, and even fewer are able to complete.

Many Martial Artists talk about eliminating fear and of having belief in themselves. But if they base this feeling solely upon their physical proficiency and growth, or upon how many "things" they know or have accomplished they will find themselves sadly mistaken. Our fears are impervious to physical manipulation. Our fears rest within our spirit, ready to spring forth at any sign of weakness that has been not dealt with through hard, dedicated, and directed work. Least anyone doubt this, you need not look any further than our own association and one who spoke so loudly of his character, fooling all including myself until the time came to show that character. Though sad, we have all come to see that much of what this person represented was covered in untruths, deceptions, and most notably: fear.

Growth in life and the elimination of fear is not a right; it is an earned state. Character does not come to those who merely want it, but only to those who dedicate themselves to its attainment. Fortunately, as members of C&S Self Defense Association, you have Masters who have the ability to guide you in your pursuit- Masters who have dealt with their fears, not run from them as we have seen others do. And it will only be those who are willing to do the real work of the Martial Artist that are those who will truly triumph over their fears and come to an understanding of the meaning of character. How long does this take? It could take a lifetime, or it could take just a few years, or you could already have it and thus be in a position to take a direct role in your own continued personal self development. Whatever the case, it will be the warrior who continues to strive for the sake of striving and not just for the attainment of the goal. Choose to be a warrior. Choose to follow those with character and not those who only talk of character.

In our art,
Grandmaster Peter M. Rose

Back to C&S Self Defense Association Home Page