Poison Teachers Can Poison Spirits
A casual student of mine asked permission to study with another instructor for a short time. He was not leaving our school, but had heard that instructor claim to be a specialist in a certain technique, and he wanted to explore that man’s specialized knowledge.
Of course I gave him permission. To forbid him exposure to that teacher would make me look like a coward. I would look like I was fearful that I did not have the goods to compete with another man.
I have experienced that kind of cowardice from the other end. Friends of mine have sponsored my seminars in their cities and run into just that kind of weak behavior. It is no secret that other local instructors, claiming to teach the same thing I learned from my teacher, have forbidden their students from attending a seminar with me. They use all sorts of pretenses to justify blocking their students from meeting me and seeing what this martial art is supposed to look like. But in reality, those teachers (and I) know they secretly fear they cannot compete against what I offer, and are really sweating what would happen if their students got a chance to train with me for two days.
Not being a coward, I had to OK my student exploring with that other teacher. But as a caring friend, I had to warn him against the spirit poisoning he would endure spending time with the individual in question. If he opened himself to that particular man’s influence, he opened himself to the power of that man’s twisted psyche full of haunted memories of authority figures disdaining him as inadequate. The teacher in question was a veneer of confident smirking sarcastic superiority covering a deep black hole of resentment for those who lived brighter than he, and beneath his pretended coolness his ego personality boiled in angry intensity.
Be very careful of even temporarily looking up to poison people, I warned my friend. Even a present of pure gold becomes poison if delivered in a radioactive box. He assured me he would be careful not to come under the spell of the polluting teacher, but I knew he had no idea of just how extremely difficult that would be.
So, how do you reconcile any possible appearance of contradiction in my above bluntly stated derision of those who block their students from meeting me, and my concern for my student working with another teacher? Am I being a hypocrite? Am I advocating one thing when I get to win, and something different when it works against me?
Well, the way I see it, your teacher and your training partners determine not only what you study and learn as a martial artist, but also who you develop into as a human being and how you walk in the world.
Where you train is what you become. Study in a disorganized rag-tag school and you are likely to become a disorganized low-expectations person. Study in a violent high-fear school and you are likely to become a highly violent fearful person. Study with a monstrous ego teacher and you will become a groupie instead of a person of power. Study with a bully and you will come to see you deserve bullying. Study with a teacher who lurches from fad to fad and you will find that instead of building steadily improving skills, you are always starting over with some new and different tactic for handling what scares you. Study with a loser who ridicules those more powerful and successful than he is and you too will learn to be a loser.
When it comes to others considering me as a teacher, I am always ready to be put to the test. I am willing to be judged and compared.
What you see is what you get. Look at my life, my skills, my books, my DVDs, my home, my family, my friends, my philosophy, my work, my impact in the world, and if you would like to have any of that in your life, train with me and I can demonstrate how to do it. I can teach what I have mastered.
On the other hand, if you are more attracted to some other teacher who has a life and story and philosophy very different from mine, and that really appeals to you, you had better study there. He or she is the expert on living very differently from Stephen K. Hayes.
If you want to become the kind of teacher that lots of high quality people want to study with, you need to be the kind of student who is highly demanding when it comes to the teachers you spend even a short amount of time with.