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Don Quixote


Some instructors of the martial arts are true masters. They started their martial arts training at a young age, they have continuously trained in the art ever since that time, and they have devoted their lives to teaching and promoting the art. However, time as a way of distorting their lives.

Don Quixote

Remember the story of Don Quixote in Miguel Cervantes’ book of the same title. The central characters of the book are Don Quixote, the elderly, idealistic knight, who sets out on his old horse Rosinante to seek adventure, and the materialistic squire Sancho Panza, who accompanies his master from one failure to another. Although they argue most fiercely, their relationship is ultimately founded upon mutual respect. During their debates, they gradually take on some of each other's attributes.

During his travels, Don Quixote's overexcited imagination blinds him to reality. He thinks windmills to be giants, flocks of sheep to be armies, and galley slaves to be oppressed gentlemen. Sancho is named the governor of the Isle of Barataria, a mock title, and Don Quixote is bested in a duel with the Knight of the White Moon, who in reality is a student of his acquaintance in disguise. Don Quixote is passionately devoted to his own imaginative creation, the beautiful Dulcinea.
 "Oh Dulcinea de Tobosa, day of my night, glory of my suffering, true North and compass of every path I take, guiding star of my fate..." 
The hero returns to La Mancha, and only at his deathbed does Don Quixote confesses the folly of his past adventures.

Martial arts instructors

Many martial art instructors are similar to Don Quixote. They remember their past, but, as more and more years have passed, their remembrances have become distorted, usually in their favor. They do not purposefully lie; it is just that they, like most of us, only remember what they want to remember, and they usually only remember things the way they wish they had happened.

Just as martial art instructors may be compared to Don Quixote, their students may be compared to Sancho Panza. They are loyal to their instructors, believe everything they say, follow their teachings, and consciously or unconsciously aid in their distorted, delusional thoughts.

Regrettably, all instructors do not parallel Don Quixote’s life to the end. Instead of confessing their follies, they go to their death still believing their delusional pasts. And, even more regrettable, is that since there were never any confessions of their delusions, their students continue to promulgate the delusions to their own students. Then, at some point during their martial arts careers, they begin to have their own delusions and their own Sanchos.

As martial arts instructors, we have a duty and a responsibility to our students to be as truthful as possible and to faithfully guide them along their “way.”

  • Cervantes. Miguel. (1605). Don Quixote. Part I published in 1605; Part II in 1615. Originally titled El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. Translated into English in 1885 by John Ormsby.

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