Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Motivation for the `long haul'

Self-practicing `hidari kizami mawashi-geri' (ido-kihon) yesterday.  
 Often people ask me “what is your key to my motivation in karate-do?” and, while I’ve talked about this before, I’d like to reiterate my mental approach today. I’d like to emphasise here that this is not `something new’, or a `new revelation’ for me. It is reflective of my training since I was very young.

Fundamentally, I believe that “…if we let go of our egos, we become liberated”; and consequentially, we gain a level of motivation which doesn’t waver and `much deeper satisfaction’ from our karate practice. Those who are better than us, we admire and respect; likewise, we do not compare ourselves to those we have surpassed (or are ahead of on the karate path).
This means that that “Your karate then truly becomes `your karate’”; thereby, setting the stage for you to bolt forward and `to really win battles against yourself’. Irrespective of whom you are, what your goals are, and any other factors, I believe this is the ultimate key to motivation in our wonderful martial art.
The ambitious junior or competitor as `a motivator’… As the lyrics of `The Fly’ by U2 go, “It’s no secret that ambition bites the nails of success.” Some see this as a good thing, but I personally disregard this as well (as it only works to a certain level and takes one psychologically away from the highest level of motivation). Again, I’ll say it again, “motivation to me should not be about others”. That way, regardless of outcomes, the process is always emphasised over the product (or result). To me personally, this is the MEANING OF KARATE-DO: the WAY or PATH of karate. Truly, it is THE PROCESS, and quality (and authenticity) of this process, that matters most.

Well wishes for all the competitors and nations attending the 2014 JKA World Championships: I’d like to wish everyone who is competing in the 13th Funakoshi Gichin World Championships, here in Japan in October, the utmost best. Also, I hope you remember my words in this post. Enjoy the tournament, and just do YOUR BEST. To me, just by entering this event—the most prestigious traditional karate-do event in the world—you have already ‘won’ from my perspective. While I’ll not be attending, I admire every person who is entering: whether they go out in the first round or end up contending for world titles. 

By and large, as I wrote in my 1996 karate-do memoirs “…don’t set the bar too low, nor too high. Set it at a height where you are challenged, but not so much that it is an impossibility”; furthermore, and just as important for motivation (and as discussed today), don’t worry about whether some can jump higher than you, or have `yet to reach your heights’. They (others) are insignificant when it comes to your karate! What matters is that “YOU KEEP PUSHING FORWARD without letting your ego becoming puffed up, nor flattened”. Focus on the process: the process of self-progression, which can only be maximised when it is "...devoid of ego that is steered and swayed by comparisons".  This, of course, transcends karate-do.
Kindest regards and best wishes, André.
Movement four of Seiryu kata during my self-practice.
© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto, Japan (2014).

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