When most people think of the term "martial artist", they don't see what I do. They think, because of Hollywood, that either martial arts is all show and no skill, or that those trained in the martial arts are ruthless killing machines. Master Eric has his own definition, which I much prefer. In Master Eric's mind, one of the duties of a martial artist is to be an "everyday superhero". Those who study the martial arts tap into their deepest sources of strength and power. That is tempered with discipline, when we are taught control, and how to act with honor and dignity. One of the ways we can do so is to help those that are clearly in need.
This is a lesson I took particularly to heart, and I have had multiple opportunities in the past few weeks to help those who were struggling. Sensei knows about each incident, and is very proud. Though let me say for the record I was not looking for praise when I spoke to Sensei. Rather, I was anxious about performing these random acts of kindness because in the family I grew up in such actions were seen as interfering in other people's lives.
The first instance occurred a little over a week ago. I found out that a couple friends of mine had gotten their power shut off because they were taken off the payment plan which let them pay their bill on their low income. My immediate response was to insist they stay with us, so they could charge their phones and the power chair Lauren had been needing to use due to an injured knee. While they stayed with us I made sure they had everything they needed and spent little of their own limited money. They have been good friends to me and are always willing to help when I need it and it is possible for them to do so.
The second instance takes a little more explanation. I was down in the college bookstore with my friend Rob while he got his books and it was extremely crowded. Well, all of a sudden I heard what sounded like a toddler's scream of frustration. I located the sound of the noise and as I did, I saw the mother and her two children being escorted from the bookstore, and all because she needed to have her diaper bag with her in order to care for her kids. I thought this was quite ridiculous and quickly stepped outside. As soon as I did I saw the mother and her two boys, and she was struggling to get them under control, considering they were both overwhelmed and overtired.
I pushed my chair over, and immediately, the children were distracted, fascinated by my chair and my light up front wheels. I introduced myself and then allowed the boys to push me a bit. After a few minutes I pulled myself out of my chair so the boys could try it out for themselves. I took this opportunity to learn that the boys' mom was a little younger than me, and the boys were 3 and 20 months. My heart already went out to her, and then she added that she was going through a nasty divorce.
She was so grateful for my assistance in occupying the boys, but what else could I do? Rob was stuck in line in the bookstore anyway, so it wasn't like I had anywhere to be. It came down to the fact that she had a problem and I had the means to help. As a martial artist, I knew my duty and did not shirk it.
And, to be totally honest, it felt really good to help someone I knew needed it. When I told Sensei as much, later that night, he immediately reassured me that I had done the right thing, and that Master Eric would be proud.
This is a trend I know will continue as I continue to act in ways that will bring honor to myself, my teachers, and Equa Do.