I drill this into my judo kids - when we are warming up I ask them (among other things), "What's your main purpose for being in judo class?" and the answer that I expect is, "To make everyone else better."
Jita Kyoei - mutual benefit - you and me both win - you and me going forward together - everyone shines together.
But it's not just kids that need drilling on this. It's adults too. And it's not just students, but sensei too. And it's not just judo, but aikido and karate and... every other discipline. Jita kyoei is not our natural state. We far too often and far too easily fall into me-my-mine mode when we should be in we-us-ours mode.
Sometimes we have to put our own desires and agendas secondary to those of others. Sometimes we have to stand and wait, in our strength, for slower weaker less experienced others to catch up. As we become stronger and higher-ranked, this should happen more and more often and to an ever increasing degree because there will be more people needing to catch up farther to get to the point to where they can help us.
There have been times when this dynamic has frustrated me as a teacher. Sometimes it seems like the higher-ranked folks don't make any progress because we're always starting over with the white belt material, but I think this is probably just my me-my-mine hanging out. As a teacher (sensei or sempai) I make you better so that you can lift me up later. Rising water floats all boats sort of thing.
But what about all the students that will never get to my level? Shoot, most won't ever get a black belt. Jita Kyoei still applies! Even though you might, realistically, never get past the hand-holding stage in judo or aikido. Even if you move around the world and I never see you again, I am still increasing the capacity of people in our society - people who are doctors, lawyers, carpenters, mechanics, teachers, fathers, mothers... People who could use a dose of ju and aiki - but more importantly, people who could use a dose of jita kyoei in their lives and careers.
I build you up, you build up a bunch of people, they build up a bunch more folks, and eventually some of those folks are bound to build me up somehow, whether in martial arts or some other way - even if it is just that I get to live in a society full of capable, mutually beneficial citizens instead of a society full of me-my-mine drones.
Jita Kyoei is my investment in you.
[photo courtesy of Nocopol_TO]
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group