In today’s day and age, the power of our words has never been more obvious. Reputations are made and ruined by idle things posted on the internet years before. The warmth of kind and supportive words also sticks with us years after we heard them. We learn as children in school that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As adults, many of us have had broken bones that have healed and have no further implications for our lives. On the other hand, hurtful words we’re told even as children may drive our behavior for decades to follow. Words are an awesome power.
We all know that running our mouths can get us in trouble and that we should generally speak respectfully – but for most of us, that’s as far as thinking about our words goes. The truth is, we are the first recipients of the energy of every word that we say. Every time we curse someone out, we receive that anger first. When we build others up with our words, we build ourselves up. When we get caught in a lie, people won’t trust us as readily as they used to. But even before we got caught, we devalued the weight of our words in our own eyes without realizing it. When we gossip and speak negatively of other people, we are the ones who experience the ugliness of those words.
Now, why is a martial arts organization so interested in policing speech? At Tumfo Tu, Right Speech, as we call this principle, is truly a vital aspect of our training. Right Speech is one of the facets of the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Simply put, we understand Right Speech to mean that we should not lie, slander, abuse, or use our words carelessly. The discipline of mastering our speech in this way has huge implications for how we master other aspects of ourselves, such as our movement. When we speak according to the principles of Right Speech, we can always say those words with our full conviction. When we don’t, we compromise the integrity of our conviction. The same process happens when we execute a blow, a technique, or any other sort of movement. If we just throw something out there, how can we expect it to be effective? Why would our opponent believe in the power of that blow when we don’t even believe in its power?
We can practice being effective in everything we do by exercising the power of speech. How many times have you told yourself you would get something done today, and then found yourself putting it off yet again because you’re tired? Practice Right Speech for a month, and you will see a tremendous increase in your ability to do the things you want to be able to do without undermining yourself. Tumfo Tu means “Power Movement.” At Tumfo Tu, we practice this day-in and day-out so that our movement in every facet of life will be powerful.