Is Commitment a Dying Art?

thIt was a rather in depth conversation between one of the most respect martial arts teachers I have ever met and yours truly. The topic was commitment and is it still a part of martial arts today. It really, really got me thinking.

My definition of commitment is simple – do what you say you are going to do. Just keep your word, otherwise, don’t give your word. Yes is a fine answer. No is an equally fine answer. Saying yes and not doing. . . . this is where the problems begin.

For some, commitment is part of their being. They come to class and give their best, even if on certain days, their best is only 10%. They commit to being a part of our schools and keep their word. It is an extension of how they live their life outside of Systema. It is rather shocking when they actually miss a class on those rare occasions. Everyone notices their absence. Yes, they have reached that level of commitment.

Even if you do not know them outside of Systema, you know them outside of Systema; that is, how they are in class is how they are with their family, their job and other aspects of life. When they say “Family matters,” their actions reflect their commitment. Yes, they would at times, have to sacrifice going to classes or seminars, but it is better than mortgaging the future of their children. Sometimes they come to class a bit late, but work may require that. You get the picture.

Others simply do not take commitment seriously. Why? Perhaps a 101 reasons and not one of them matters. As above, lack of commitments is also a way of life. I say this and do that. I want to train in System, but have to drive too far. I commit to my family and our financial future, unless there is something I want or a seminar I can go to. I want a better job, but have not gotten around to looking just yet.  Such is the way of fake-commitments. Talk one way. Do another. A winner makes commitments. A loser makes promises.

A winner makes commitment. A loser makes promises.


I am extremely fortunate to have an unusually large group who understand and apply the principle of commitment. Their actions always reflect their words, and vice-versa. Yes, there will be the occasional emergency or plain old mistake, but that is the rarity. Consistency and commitment are the watch words.

In conclusion, I think commitment is not a dying art. I think it is alive and well in the same percentage of individuals now, as it was 100 years ago, as it will be 100 years from now.

The old adage is true — the more things change, the more they stay the same.