You could hear the shouting and scuffle from the men’s changing room in the Dojo, sensei walked in and pulled the two protagonists apart, both huffing an puffing like pair of old Billy goats with their chests inflated.
“What an earth’s going on here?” asked sensei.
“He’s been dissin’ me…” spat Michael, straining at the firm hand holding him back.
“No I ain’t” said John with an obvious disdain and a look that you could tell would rip Michael a second backside any moment.
“Settle down” said sensei firmly, “now Michael, explain..”
“He said that I moved like a girl and not worth my grade!” Michael strained again to have a go.
As sensei turned his head to look, John retorted “as it happens I said no such thing, but looking at you now…..”
Michael went to have another go and sensei slammed him against the wall.
“What did you say?” Sensei looked at John.
“I don’t have clue as to what the gormless pratt is talking about!” John stared evilly at Michael.
Sensei turned to Michael…
“No – he told Brett who told Jamie who told me…” As the words came out of his mouth he knew they sounded lame
“So you’ve heard some 3rd hand malicious gossip, taken it as gospel and come straight here to have a go at John?”
“It made me angry!” Michael started to redden.
“Did it not occur to you to ask John first?”
“If I was going to say it Michael, I’d say it to your face.” John looked levelly at Michael – “I certainly don’t need to say it to ‘Brett’.
Sensei turned to Michael – “In the first instance Michael, I’d say never listen to gossip because you’ll never hear any good of yourself. Second, if you feel offended by something you should talk to that person first. They probably won’t have said it, or it may have been taken out of context, or if said in error, they may want the opportunity to apologise.”
“And I never said it” said John – “but if he wants to take it outside now – I’m ready.”
“You’re not helping here John, you haven’t done anything so there’s nothing to defend.
“Michael – why are you so offended? Is your self esteem so low that malicious gossip can destroy it? Do you not think that it was passed on to you because someone knew that they could ‘wind you up’ and cause this argument?”
“My self esteem isn’t low…. I know what I am!”
“Then why be offended by lies?
“But he might have said it!”
“Then it would still be lies wouldn’t it? You really need to think this out.
The only people that need to gossip are insecure. Malicious gossip is killed instantly when no one pays attention to it. The only people that pay any attention are insecure and/or mischievous and want to cause trouble; they have no value in a club or martial arts group. They are the proverbial ‘bad apples’ in the barrel.
The more you progress in your martial training, the more these weak, insecure people will gossip about you. It’s up to you to show your ‘mettle’ and rise above it. A martial artist doesn’t gossip and doesn’t listen to it. Actions prove louder than words and that’s what we should be judged by.”
“You’re right sensei, John’s never shown me anything but respect personally, it was a bit stupid to listen to gossip,” – he looked at John – “I’m sorry mate.”
Sensei looked at John who was still angry.
“John, you had to defend yourself if attacked, there’s nothing wrong in that, it would have been better if you had taken the heat out of the situation before it got to violence by not getting too angry too quickly yourself. It’s the mark of a good martial artist. Remember ‘the highest skill of a martial artist is to not fight’. If that had been possible, both of you would have been able to retain your dignity.
As it is, you have both succumbed to the mischief making of others and performed at their bidding…
John, do you accept Michael’s apology?”
“Maybe I could have dealt with it better, I did over react when I probably should have listened…” Their hands met and they were friends again.
“That’s the first step in defeating malicious people,” said sensei steadily, the next is don’t listen to gossip, don’t encourage it and don’t respond to it. Judge people by their actions, not by others words, if you have a problem with someone – be a true martial artist and speak to them discreetly, politely and directly.”
“Sound advice sensei” said John.
“Amen to that” said Michael – “and I’ll have a discreet, polite and personal word with Jamie.”
“Or ignore him by not letting him know that it had any effect – and don’t pay him any attention in the future – he’s certainly not one of your friends.”
Sensei turned to the group that had gathered – “know what and who you are by challenging yourself in the Dojo. Do not let anyone undermine the self knowledge that you develop through humility and hard work. Your enemies are not just those that want to attack you physically, there are far more that will find your weaknesses and exploit them in other ways. Malicious gossip to ‘pull your strings’ is one of the most insidious, usually spread by those that are unable to stick to anything and resent those that can. Don’t hate them – they’re sad people that have nothing else in life. If you waste time on them – you become like them.
And we don’t want that do we?”