As with the other Pillars, Service is built into Kempo both in its propagation as well as in its implementation. It is true that Shaolin Kempo would not exist today if it were not for the Service — in the form of teaching — of untold generations of instructors. But it is perhaps more interesting that Kempo would not be what it is without the active Service of its participants. As each student enters a Dojo for the first time they enter into a reciprocal Service-based relationship, not only with the instructor but with every other member of the studio.
There is an old saying that, “You are only as good as the people you train with.” and it plays out in every Dojo. Seniors students initially help a new student get acquainted with the studio and all students — very literally — offer their bodies to their fellow students for experimentation and the Learning of new techniques.
To learn Kempo a student must practice each movement against a wide assortment of people. Each student takes a turn serving their fellows by offering their body for use as a practice bag. In this way each student is able to practice and learn. Further, they are able to share their accumulated experience directly with each partner.
This practice of Service, both by the instructors and the students, engenders a culture of Service. It creates untold opportunities for people to experience the gratification of helping others to achieve their goals. This encourages people to find more ways, in more settings, to help others achieve their goals.
Life is a shared experience. There are seven billion of us on this planet and we are all connected together. We can — and should — serve each other in countless ways. From a kind work spoken to the offer of a warm meal. From building a house to teaching someone how to tie their belt for the first time. Learning Kempo alone would not be fruitful or enjoyable. Nor would a life be fruitful or enjoyable that was not lived in connection to those around us.
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