Lessons in Martial Arts Character… from Geese?

by Joseph Galea (reprinted without permission)

You are never too old to learn a good lesson and you never know from whom the lesson may come. As students of the martial arts, we are trained to be open-minded individuals and to seek new knowledge for personal growth. With this in mind, the following describes a strong simile between the actions of geese and the behavior we all aspire to assimilate as good martial arts students.

Lesson #1

As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent extra flying range.

In the martial Arts, we share a common direction and a sense of community that enables each of us to succeed more quickly and easily because we are learning and growing on the thrust of each other. Martial Arts classes are designed to develop students’ skills at their own pace, while also challenging students to exceed their own expectations. Through classroom support, a faster individual pace is established that will often accelerate progress and overall skill.

Lesson #2

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

When we take class, it is similar to being in formation. Sometimes we fall out of formation due to life’s challenges and miss scheduled classes. It is crucial to your overall success to make it a priority to re-establish your position in the formation. This is beneficial to you as well as the rest of the class. You will benefit from the “lifting power” of your classmates and there will be others who benefit from your presence, too! Like geese, we need to recognize our strength as a group and our responsibility to those who rely on us.

Lesson #3

The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that encouragement is an important part of motivation and goal achievement. Martial arts students of today are our teachers of tomorrow. It is up to each of us as students to encourage not only fellow students of similar rank, but also those with higher knowledge to continue their development in the arts. Then we can all continue to grow and learn.

Lesson #4

When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they will launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

The road to black belt is not an easy one. It requires the student to overcome many challenges and adversities. During these times, we should remember to stand by each other and offer assistance. Quite often, it may only require small gestures of support, such as offering a ride so that a fellow student does not miss a class or a testing. Sometimes a student may have to take a leave of absence from class due to work or health issues. An occasional phone call to this student will remind them that they are missed and will go a long way to making sure that they don’t lose sight of their martial arts goals.

Lesson #5

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

We all have our strong points and our weaknesses. It is smart to share leadership with those who are capable of fulfilling the role. In our daily lives, this is known as delegation. As leaders, by delegating tasks to those with the skill to complete those tasks, we will impact those who follow in a very positive way. When we try to do everything ourselves we jeopardize not only our own success but also that of the group. Imagine if the lead goose never forfeited the leadership role. As martial artists we learn to use all available resources, which enables us to reach our highest potential.

So the next time you are outside and a flock of geese flies by in perfect “V” formation, you might think of them as an analogy of a martial arts school.

Always remember that a good lesson can come from anywhere… even geese!


Back to Articles