The Way Of Karate

By Sensei Dave Hanson:

In the classic movie Karate Kid Mr. Miyagi shares with Daniel-San a timeless key to success.  He say’s, “Either you karate do, or you karate don’t.  You karate guess so, squish just like grape.” Another Mr. Miyagi, the one whom the character was based upon, Chojun Miyagi shared a similar sentiment when he said, “It is simply a matter of paying the price. Karate is a total commitment…There is no half way measure. Either you do it, or you don’t.  Nothing is impossible.”  His contemporary, Kenwa Mabuni the founder of Shito-ryu Karate said, “Karatedo is a lifetime study.” The masters of the past understood and passed on to their students a timeless principle about mastery of karate.  A principle that if adopted into their student’s life inside the dojo, could also be easily applied outside of the dojo too.  That secret is persistence with a passion.  The key to maintain your persistence in the study of karate, school, work, or any other endeavor is to fuel that persistence with your passion.  The truly successful in life “burn the ships.” They move forward without looking back for an escape plan.  If you are not totally committed to your martial art, or any goal for that matter you will not be successful and eventually give up. How do you develop your persistence muscles? Begin by developing your passion.
Passion has been connected to the romantic feeling that a couple in love may share for one another.  The word passion comes from the Latin root word passio, meaning suffering, or enduring.  A different way to think about it is those things you really want to achieve you must be willing to endure to attain.  Your persistence is fuled by your passion, or your enduring for a goal that is worthy of your sacrifice. Under a good Sensei a student learns from their teachers words, that are underlined by their actions. They learn that karate is not only basics, forms and sparring.  It’s is about using the passion that the student has expressed for the art of karate to develop their character.  Making them a complete person. Character is forged under the heat of persistence.  Every time they perform their form one more time when they are tired and want to quit, that is persistence strengthening their character. Each time they do that one extra push-up that they thought they couldn’t do, but did, is another example of persistence developing their character.  When they do the right thing even when everyone else is going another direction, that is their persistence building their character. These are the lessons taught under a good Sensei in the dojo.  The kicking and punching is just a part of that process of learning and developing their character.

The legendary coach John Wooden once said, “Competition doesn’t build character. It reveals it.” The karate student’s character is not developed in the moment like a competition, but over a lifetime of shaping it under the hammer of persistence.  The muscle that swings that hammer is the student’s passion.  A passion for their art, their dojo and their own self-improvement.  Under the nurturing of a good Sensei that passion muscle grows and so does their persistence. Why is a good Sensei so important in creating and helping the student maintain that passion?  Because as John Maxwell once said, “Instruction informs, but passion inspires.” To inspire literally means to breathe life into.  Every time a teacher inspires his student not to quit. To work a little harder. Try a little longer. They are breathing a fresh breath into them not to give up.  As the days turn into years, with a qualified instructor, that student eventually attains some level of mastery themselves.  Why?  Simply because they didn’t quit. They didn’t give up on their goal and lose their passion for their art.  Once a student learns the skill of developing their passion to maintain their persistence, there is very little that can stop them inside, or outside of the dojo walls.  They learn as Chojun Miyagi said, “Nothing is impossible.” That is what karate teaches.  We learn this lesson in the dojo and then come to understand that this same lesson applies to life.  Whether it is karate, or any thing else the student of karate knows that you either you do, or your don’t.  There is no half way commitment.  A half way commitment to your goals is really no commitment at all.  It is compromise.  A compromise on your own potential and your dreams.  Don’t compromise your dreams.  Make a commitment and then stay the course.  That is the way of success. The way of karate.


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