Sometimes there are people in one’s dojo or martial arts circle who like to appoint themselves “assistant teacher” or to “advertise” in one way or another how much they know. For those with a higher rank who, hopefully, are also more knowledgeable, this can be kind of irritating, especially when the person seems to be getting attention and “respect” from lower ranked practitioners. After all, none of us is free from the nagging call of an ego, and we all like to be recognized for whatever status we have legitimately earned.
Faced with such a situation, the higher ranked / more knowledgeable student may be tempted to resort to the same tactics as the “advertising assistant teacher,” and go out of his way to show others that he, in fact, is more qualified and more knowledgeable. For several reasons, that is an unwise response, and is the complete opposite of the budo dictate that one should not indulge one’s ego.
Struggling with this kind of issue myself recently, I hit upon a bit of an insight and, as I like to do, tried to sum it up in a succinct, impactful “lesson” that would be easy to remember. Because such sayings are more memorable for me when in Japanese, that is the language that I used. Anyway, here is the statement that I came up with:
Mieru hito wa itsuka miete kuru. Mienai hito wa dō de mo ii.
Translated, it means something like, “Those who are capable of seeing will someday come to see. Those who are incapable of seeing don’t really matter.” In other words, in the end, one’s knowledge, skills, and abilities will inevitably become apparent to anyone who matters, so there is no need to engage in ego-based self-promotion or showing off.