I’ve been thinking a lot about the dojo kun. For those who don’t know what that is – it’s basically the dojo rules. It’s a list of things we are supposed to do. It’s funny, though, the dojo kun isn’t something that applies only to karate students. I pretty much think it’s a set of things for all humans.

Number one on the list is “To seek perfection of character”. Think about that one for a minute. Perfection of character. To be the best person you can be. Wow. Only for those walking in the shadow of karate? I don’t think so. We should all strive to be the best person we can be. Each day, be just a little bit better than we were the day before. One step at a time. One day at a time. Just like a student training. Interesting thought, huh?

What can I do today in my walk towards perfection of character? I ask myself that question every day. I don’t always find the answer. Most of the time it finds me.

What can you do today on your quest for ‘perfection of character’?

One Step At A Time

In this fast-paced world we’ve become so accustomed to everything happening at lightening speed that we forget sometimes things take time. I watch when a new student starts training, seeing the glint of excitement in their eyes as they stare longingly at my black belt. They can envision being a Shodan one day. It’s real. It’s tangible. It’s possible.

Then the training starts. Hard work coupled with sweat and sore muscles and suddenly the dream seems just that. A dream. Not something concrete and attainable. The glimmer disappears from their eyes as they slog through their training. That’s where being an instructor gets harder. How can I put the sparkle back in their spirit, letting them renew their excitement and determination? I remember the feeling and I remember the lessons. It’s all one step at a time. Don’t think about anything other than what you’re doing. Do the best one punch you can. Do the best one kick you can. Focus on the fun each of those moments brings and before you know it you’re one rung closer as you climb the ladder.

I was thinking all of those things today as I thought about two of my students. One adult and one child. Each is at different places in their training and yet each feels as far away from black belt as the other. One just earned their blue belt and one just earned their red black belt. One is almost there. But how will they both do it? One punch. One kick. One kata. It really is that simple.

Sometimes we need to take a moment and slow down, enjoy the moments as they happen and keep remembering the lessons that you’re learning on each part of the journey. The two students that I mentioned earlier? I’m proud of both of them. They’ve both worked hard to get where they’re going. I can’t wait to hand them each their black belt, welcoming them to Shodan. That’s where the real journey begins.

Spirit First

Today, as sadness ripples through the world with the bombing of Manchester fresh in our minds and thoughts, spirit is the word that comes to mind. Spirit first. Technique second. Someone told me that once, relative to training. I’m struck today by how many times in our lives that can same concept can apply.

Let our spirits be strong today in the face of adversity and pain, knowing evil lurks waiting to hurt innocent children. Spirit first as we stand up and say this must stop. Spirit first as we tell each other –  human to human –  we all matter.

Spirit – that indefinable something separating us from every other living thing. We can channel it, and control it and use it to make a change. As I hold the citizens of Manchester in prayer my spirit screams into the universe – no more of the madness. Let your spirit speak and walk alongside your words. Make a difference in the world. One person at a time.

It’s Been A Very Long While

Here I go again. Another May and another resurrection of my blog. I’m ashamed of myself for letting it languish without attention, yet, I’ve been so incredibly busy which is why I haven’t posted. That’s part of the story, anyway.

I let it slide after I made Shodan, because, well, I’d reached my goal. I think that’s like a lot of martial artists that I know. You get to where you were going and you’re done. Luckily for me, it was only the blog that stopped. I’ve still been training. More importantly, I’ve been learning a lot as well. And isn’t that what matters?

As I thought about what my first blog post would say I also contemplated changing the name. You see, I’m not a Shodan any more. I’ve climbed one more rung on the ladder and learned a little bit more so I’m a Nidan. Why do I make it sound like I haven’t learned too much? Simple. There’s so much still left to learn. Just like reaching Shodan is the real beginning, Nidan is a baby step in the scheme of things. I have a lot more to learn. About martial arts. About training. About teaching. About spirit. About body connection. And those are just the things that I can think of off the top of my head.

Being a martial artist is a lifelong journey. I’ve been training a very long while…and I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.