A Reluctant Master? 

Be Impeccable With Your Words



One of the things I’ve been working on recently comes from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book - The Four Agreements. 


Although the book is a little too spiritual for me I found the first agreement to be exceptional advice and something I’ve been trying my best to implement in my daily life. 


Agreement number one: Be Impeccable With Your Words. 


As a martial arts blog I best make sure to cover why this can be so important to the martial arts students! First though, please allow me to give a general overview of how I’m finding it useful. 


How many times a day do we inadvertently overreact or overdramatise small events? I know I do (less so now). I think many of us will have heard the one that goes something like - ‘It’s a bad hour, not a bad day’? You come home from work and you tell your partner that you’ve had the day from hell! You then go on to say that you missed the bus this morning and if that wasn’t bad enough someone stole your lunch out the fridge (hopefully pre-pandemic or that’s EXTRA weird). By my calculation that’s probably one hour of your day that didn’t go so well? NOT your whole day! 


This can be dangerous because if you’re not impeccable with your words and you verbalise those emotions they become more real. 


When they become more real you start to act on them more. You start to believe what you’re saying and you look for other things to go wrong and compound that initial reaction. 


So, be impeccable with your words. Say what you mean and mean what you say. 


In martial arts this can be a big problem and often times can be the start of a student losing a lot of confidence. 


Example: 'Sir, can I talk to you about this pattern? I just cannot get it!!!' 


I take the student to the side of class and watch the pattern…


First move, good. Second move, good. Third move, good…. You get the idea. 


Fifteenth move, that kick needs a bit of work but that’s ok. 


At this point the student usual throws their hands up in the air. Exasperated because they stumbled when doing one or two moves around that particular kick. 


What’s happened here, because they haven’t been impeccable with their words, is, one, they write the whole pattern off in their head and two, they don’t automatically realise that it’s one one small thing they need to drill. 


I’ll see this student then start over and over again and stumble at the exact same point. If they’d been impeccable with their words (and acted on that) they would take time to simply drill that kick until it caught up with the rest of the (overall) really good pattern. 


Another more serious time I encountered with this recently went as follows…


Someone who can suffer quite badly from bouts of anxiety told me that they ‘lived in fear’. 


When I gently and supportively asked them if they could unpack that statement it turned out that when they weren’t feeling anxious they actually had a very happy and fulfilling life. 


So, did they actually ‘live’ in fear or did their words take them to a place where they didn’t fully appreciate or comprehend that the majority of their time was spend in a happy place? 


I’m absolutely NOT a health care professional but pointing that out seems to have helped, at least for now. 


The advice I would give to everyone is to think if what you’re saying - inside and outside the Dojang - is accurate. Think about how that leads you to the next thought and the one after that. 


One last example that popped into my head as I write this is another one I hear in the school all the time. ‘I can’t run’! This usually comes after ten minutes of running at the beginning of class. 


Students always seem a little confused as I stand and scratch the last remaining active follicles on my head…


‘You can’t run or you don’t like running?’  


‘I hate it… I’m rubbish at it.’


‘But you can… run… because you’ve literally just done it for ten minutes.’


‘You know what I mean.’


My thought at this moment is that, yes, I absolutely know what they mean. 


I don’t think they do! 


Be kinder in your thoughts towards yourself. 


Be accurate in your thoughts towards yourself. 


See where it takes you…