1. Accept everything you’re told at face value. Especially if it comes from somebody with a higher rank than you. And if that belt comes wrapped around an Asian person… oh my gawd.
2. Never go to open seminars, camps or other get-togethers where there’s a realistic chance you’ll actually have to re-evaluate or question your current knowledge and understanding of Karate.
3. Completely disregard everything that is not in your immediate environment when it comes to other styles and kinds of Karate. They’re fun to look at, but not really that useable or interesting.
4. Don’t go to any Karate tournaments. Not even for looking. Of course, unless your sensei has explicitly demanded you to go. Then you go.
5. Don’t buy any Karate books, magazines, online courses or DVDs. They will only serve to confuse you and don’t apply to your dojo’s unique concept of Karate anyway.
6. Learn dozens of different defenses against a straight lunging punch with the right hand. Preferably in a deep forward stance. Kiai optional.
7. Always remember that the real Karate stuff (practical, realistic and dirty) will be taught to you. Eventually. When you are mature enough. Perhaps. Maybe. Hopefully.
8. Kobudo and other weapons based training? Leave that to the weirdos.
9. Think about all the other cool martial arts you’ve seen on YouTube, but never try any of them. That goes for two-person drills and strengthening exercises too.
10. Always go to Karate class with the intention of jumping through hoops and checking off boxes. Also, make sure you don’t stand out. Save your questions.
11. Keep training like you’ve always done. No need to change a winning concept. Don’t fix what’s not broken.
12. Take a “pause” from Karate when progress seems slow. Stopping training for a couple of weeks or months will boost your physical and mental well-being as well as enhance your technical progress.
13. Ignore the incredibly rich cultural legacy that comes packed with Karate. History is for dusty books and tradition is for church. Besides, the new and old are incompatible. That’s like a universal law. I think it was Newton who said it.
14. Don’t bother learning a couple of useful original Japanese Karate terms and phrases. Everyone will speak English in the future anyway. Save the brainspace.
15. Never let anybody tell you that you’re doing something wrong or different. Your Karate style/organization/club can be likened to your religion, and thus it must be defended at all costs. It’s simply a matter of integrity.
16. Don’t forget that Real Karate™ can only be found in Japan. Luckily, your sensei has been there (or at least somebody he knows has been there), so you will never have to go yourself.
17. All that esoteric and holistic stuff that the old masters used to talk about (respect, humility, persistance, gratitude, harmony, fighting spirit, enlightenment and such) is not something you need to consciously practise every single day of your life. Rather it will eventually, most likely automatically, come to you if you just keep training as usual.
18. No pain, no gain. If you’re a bit tired, always stay home from the dojo. You won’t be able to learn anything in your current state anyway. Eat a TV dinner and fall asleep to Oprah. No guilt included.
19. Lastly, if you’re ever – and I mean ever – unsure about something, just remind yourself of the three holy pillars of Karate: Conformism, Safety and Comfort.