20 (Even) More Things About Karate You Ought to Know

All right folks!

I’m finally back from a long week in Paris, with a bag full of fresh and exclusive video clips from the 21st edition of the Senior WKF Karate World Championships, which took place in a packed Bercy Stadium with roughly 15’000 people attending the spectacular finals.

An amazing event.

As always, keep an eye on my YouTube channel for awesome videos and behind-the-scenes footage coming up real soon.

In the meantime, I thought I’d hit you with a couple of random Karate thoughts, like I’ve done before here and here. You know the drill.

Here we go:

1. Follow the old masters, but never let your lineage, style or history be a excuse to stop learning new stuff. The past is a place of reference, not residence.

2. Regrettably, the modern day study of bunkai consists more or less of educated guesses. And the longer you’ve trained, the more qualified your guesses seem to become.

3. If you have never been angry with your sensei, you have probably not been training long enough.

4. Use your finest gi. Put on your most expensive belt. Never save things for a “special occasion” – today is special. You only live once. Do it to the fullest.

5. When it comes to gradings and demos: Overprepare, then go with the flow.

6. The most important weapon in Karate is neither the edge of your foot nor the edge of your hand. It’s the edge of your mind.

7. When you’re a brown belt, you believe only half of what your sensei tells you. When you’re a black belt, you know which half.

8. The secret of becoming awesome at Karate can often be reduced to the surprisingly simple tasks of getting up, dressing up, showing up and never giving up.

9. Make a mental note to slow down. The depths of Karate are best discovered, and subsequently enjoyed, at a more sophisticated pace.

10. To the average Joe, Karate will probably never be “cool” – and the sooner you’re cool with that, the sooner you’ll be able to unconditionally keep doing what you love.

11. The best sensei are the ones who inspire you – with their techniques, words and actions – instead of trying to motivate you using behavioral ‘science’ or management techniques. Sadly, most sensei haven’t spent enough time on the receiving end of either to understand the significance of this difference.

12. Let go of expectations. When you have expectations of something, you put it in a predetermined box which has little to do with reality. And Karate is all about reality.

13. Until the day comes when you prefer an inconvenient truth over a reassuring lie, you don’t truly deserve the privilege of receiving your sensei’s feedback.

14. Modern Karate is increasingly geared toward competition — rip each other’s throats out, survival of the fittest, blah blah. Try the opposite though, and you might just discover a new kind of joy. Competition is very rarely as useful as cooperation – both in Karate and life.

15. Figure out what you really like in Karate – then proceed to do it passionately. And if you can’t figure anything out, well… then you should probably be doing something else.

16. If a sensei tells you he is 100% certain of something, he’s most certainly lying. No one really knows what they’re doing as Karate teachers. Although we would obviously never admit it, we’re all secretly faking it, hoping we’re getting it right. Personally, I just try not to mess my students up too much.

17. The difference between bad and good Karate? One is based on the perception of reality, the other on actual reality.

18. What other people think of your Karate is none of your business. A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

19. The currency of Karate is sweat. And the goal of your job in the dojo is not unlike any other job – get paid.

20. There’s a ton of cool stuff in Karate that you’ll never experience. But that’s OK. Physical reality dictates we’ll miss most things in life anyway. So learn to truly enjoy the slice of Karate, and life, you do experience… and try to make the most of it. Our time on this earth is exceedingly brief.

That’s it for now.

I’m gonna go take a hot shower now (it’s like a regular shower, but with me in it). Make sure you stay updated for awesome World Karate Championships footage on my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Keep keepin’ it real guys, and keep the great comments up!



  • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
    I love most of them. Really! Especially 8, 9 and 14 are so important, I think! But... 7 and 18 are somewhat cheesy, don't you think? And for 3: Is this self-marketing? ;D
    • Believe it or not Rui-san, the cheesy ones seem to resonate with a lot of folks! ;)
      • Cinzia
        Me, for example xD
  • Dan
    In 15., can it be karate as a whole? I mean, I love the three k's, the art of it, the competition, the sweatin'... what is there not to love?
    • Don't ask me! ;)
    • Cinzia
      Agree xD
  • Greg
    Fantastic article, thank you fro taking the time to write it for our enjoyment! Loved every word :) Take care.
  • 3. If you have never been angry with your sensei, you have probably not been training long enough. So true... :-)
    • Boban Alempijevic
      Totally agree :)
  • Barbara Hesselschwerdt
    Love it. Especially no.s 6 & 7. But it's no. 12 I have the most trouble with - "let go of expectations". I need to work on that one.
    • Don't we all Barbara-san...
  • Szilard
    In my experience expectations are not terribly bad, terribly bad are the contradicting expectations. You know, things like the new kata we are about to learn will be surely + cool looking, + easy to master, + very down to earth and supereffective in applications, + absolutely unknown to anyone else, + the others stiles that practices it have the exact same version + and nobody in other stiles will think that my stile's version is a dumbed down useless funny dance we do instead of kata.
  • pete ampil
    Jesse -san It was only recently that I noticed no. 4 in most of my buddies.......I usually use my least favored gi while my senseis and sempais apparently use their best gi cum belt......... every session should really be considered special and one should use his 'best' gi peteampil@yahoo.com
  • Thibaud
    Hi Jesse, hi everybody, A French tv report on the female national team of France. Be careful, no subtitle of this original version. Watch "Au bonheur des Dan " http://www.canalplus.fr/c-sport/pid2708-c-interieur-sport.html#pid2708-c-interieur-sport.html?&_suid=1355660971283013947863894917123 Best regards Thibaud
  • marjolein
    thanks! I really like your blog, will keep on reading it!
  • nic868
    Enjoying your series
  • Michael
    Great Article (again) ! I almost s**t my pants over your "shower"-joke :D

Leave a comment