Sunday 8 April 2012

Great Karate

How can anyone who practices karate-do think they are “great”? It is impossible if one has an honest view of themselves. Irrespective of competitive wins, tenure, rank and other accolades, Karate-Do is always about “where to next?” Intrinsically, the Japanese concept of ‘Do’ (way or path) does not imply a destination, only a journey.

Like all things, I believe there must be a balance, harmony. We are innately weak, so we cannot always be magnifying our deficits—sometimes—when deserved, we need to acknowledge our improvements. Nevertheless, these little truck stops where we reach our goals are not places of growth, but a point where we “get reinvigorated and set our next goal”… This means that it is time to make a renewed plan to start walking again.

One of my weaknesses when I was younger was that I was far too hard on myself in the dojo, especially in my childhood and teens (probably why I didn’t like karate very much for many years). Looking back now, I can clearly see it was due to my immaturity and a perfectionist attitude, based on my ‘boyish pride’. While these things can obviously be used to channel motivation, they can also stump development as well… And at times for me, they certainly did. During my 20s I sometimes found myself wrestling with these issues, and by my early 30s, I came pretty much to the point I am now.

Now, my approach to karate now is far better because of ‘balance’ and ‘self-honesty’. The combination of these attributes motivates practice through `step-by-step’ technical improvement, the construction of constant challenges, and the occasional truck stop where long-term goals are reached; nevertheless, the contemplation of oneself being “great” can never be a part of this equation. Overall, the idea of ‘great’ to me is a dead end… Train well and enjoy your improvements, but the only thing, that is great in Karate-Do, is the thought of “Where to next with your practice?” That truly is great! Osu, André.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2012).

No comments: