Selenium is good for your sperm.
That’s what a lady whispered to her husband behind me at the supermarket yesterday, as they inspected a new energy drink containing the mineral selenium.
I wanted to turn around and say: “Look buddy: If you have fertility issues, there are more important things than energy drinks. Start with getting more sun (vitamin D), sleep better, eat better, avoid stress, remove your iPhone from your crotch and exercise more.”
But I doubt he would listen.
Because people want easy solutions, with minimal effort, for maximum results.
In Karate too.
Like, have you ever heard somebody ask a sensei how long it will take them to get black belt? Or if they can learn the next kata? Or when they can start sparring, or competing?
In short, we want satisfaction and we want it
But as you know, real Karate doesn’t work that way.
Karate forces us to take the long route, and provides no real map for the journey.
That’s why it’s so hard for some people to keep training, even when they know that persistance and fighting spirit are key components in the endless quest for becoming awesome at Karate.
Sometimes I think it would be easier if people just followed their Karate Compass.
…what? I haven’t told you about the Karate Compass before?
Well, allow me to explain then:
See, when people ask me, “Jesse-san, what should I be practicing? My punches, my kicks, my kata, my kihon or my kumite?” I always reply with a threefold question, designed to kickstart their internal Karate Compass:
The questions are:
a) “What do you resist the most in Karate?”
b) “What are you most afraid of in Karate?”
c) “What do you avoid the most in Karate?”
The answer to the above is your Karate Compass.
That’s what you should practice.
(Feel free to take a minute to answer the above questions. I’ll wait.)
Your answers can range from the mundane (memorizing a new kata, hurting myself in kumite, ripping my new gi pants) to the more philosophical (never reaching my true potential, not living up to my own/sensei’s expectations, allowing the status quo to dictate my life) etc.
Resistance, avoidance or fear – call it what you want – is your most reliable compass in the land of the Empty Hand and shows you exactly which direction to go in your continued practice; no matter what your current belt, rank, flexibility, strength, skill or knowledge level happens to be.
- Follow the compass, and your rewards will be nothing short of mind-blowing.
- Ignore the compass, and nothing will ever change.
Allow me to share an anecdote:
One time we had this gasshuku (advanced training course) at our dojo, and we were practicing some kicks standing on the tatami mat. Suddenly, one of our brown belts runs off the tatami and starts practicing on the wooden floor instead.
So I ask him: “What are you doing? Get back on the mat!”
His reply? “No, it’s too soft there. It’s easier to kick over here on the hard floor.”
What this guy failed to realize was that he should have stayed on the tatami precisely BECAUSE it was harder. BECAUSE it made his kicks worse. BECAUSE he risked losing his balance, looking like a fool.
That uneasy feeling is your Karate Compass.
It always points to where it hurts most – physically, emotionally or spiritually.
And, as you’ve probably figured out by now, this always implies a choice:
Do you follow the compass…
…or do you ignore it?
The day you dare to dance on the edge of your comfort zone is the day you realize that your doubts and fears are actually an internal compass just like this; to be used either as an excuse to quit or a challenge to push through.
The choice is up to you.
At the end of the day, Karate is highly personal endeavor and the choices you make in your day-to-day training will undoubtedly reflect not only your “belt level” but your regular life outside the dojo too.
And for most people, that’s where it really counts.
So choose wisely.
And yes, no choice is also a choice
“Karate is an abyss and an enigma; grasped only through deep thinking and careful understanding.” – Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953)
Have YOU ever experienced the “Karate Compass”?
Leave a comment and let me know.