8 Myths About Karate
A lot of myths surround the martial art of traditional Okinawan karate. Here are eight that you may have heard and the real truth.
Lessons from a Geisha doll
Recently, a gift of a tiny Geisha doll reminded me of something. She reminded me that when you fall down (or get knocked down) you get back up. And, you keep getting back up every time. It doesn't matter what challenges are thrown your way or what situation is occurring in your life at the time.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you are flat on your back at a low point in your life.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you are sick.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you weren't successful before or how many times you've tried and failed in the past.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you don't have anyone to lean on, pick you up, carry you or encourage you.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you've had your bell rung or your heart broken or your pride shattered.
You get back up.
You see, the world loves an underdog. The world wants to see you succeed. The world wants to see you get back up.
Because it's the glorious grit of never quitting that emotionally charges the masses and inspires them. Then, when they fall down, and everyone does eventually...
THEY GET BACK UP.
~ Vashon Borich, Sensei
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Change your life in 30 days
It may sound like the lead in for an email in your Spam box, but you really can change your life in 30 days. The secret is selecting a single, meaningful change, goal or project that you commit to doing for 30 days in a row.
I was inspired when I watched a TED talk by Matt Cutts. If you are not familiar with TED, it is a Web site that contains a full library of "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." You can watch the video that inspired me here:
If you can't see the embedded video, you can navigate to it with this link: http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html
Come to think of it, watching one TED video for 30 days could be a positive life changing endeavor. I challenge you for the next 30 days to do something amazing. If you are short on ideas here are just a few in various categories. (Thank you to my students who offered up a number of these!)
I welcome your comments on this blog as to what you selected as your 30 day challenge, what happened along the way, if it was successful for you or how it changed an aspect of your life.
My philosophy of the martial arts is based on three things: Mind, Body and Spirit. My goal as a Sensei (teacher) is to facilitate growth in all three areas for every student that comes into my dojo. For good health I believe it is important to strive to improve these three areas of ones life.
First, it helps to understand the meaning of each of these elements:
The Body = represents your physical health; strength, flexibility and stamina
The Mind = represents your mental health; alertness, expanding ones knowledge through learning new things and stretching the mind with new challenges, ideas and thought processes
The Spirit = your spiritual health; development of strong character, positive attitude, slow to anger, a purposeful life, belief in a power greater than yourself.
I believe that each of us, myself included, must constantly work to hone our minds, bodies and spirits. Karate and the martial arts are methods for improving all three. But, it is important to also seek opportunities for improvement outside of the dojo.
Just for today, do something healthy for your body.
Just for today, read or talk to someone about something that expands your mind.
Just for today, take time to meditate or pray to your higher power. Focus on finding the positive aspects of any situation.
If you choose to do these three things each day, you may soon find peace and the rewards of a healthy and fulfilling life.
Maintaining a Beginner's Mind
I am a beginner.
Sure, I've been involved in some sort of Martial Art since I was 8 years old and I'm 38 now. But, in my mind I'm still a beginner. Beginner's don't have to be cool or claim to know everything. Beginner's don't get uptight when they make a mistake. Beginner's are always learning. They seem to have more fun, too. They aren't overly critical of themselves. They don't classify themselves as "good" or "bad." They are simply a beginner... someone who is in the present and there to learn. Beginner's love what they do regardless of how well they do it. Or, should I say, beginner's love unconditionally.
This concept of being a beginner is really a mindset, a "beginner's mind." By adopting a beginner's mind, it opens you to learning without ego getting in the way. So often, as adults, we tell ourselves, "I know this! I should have done better! Anything I do should be done well or not done at all. Or, this is how I've always done it." A beginner's mind means temporarily throwing out all of your opinions, beliefs, logic and reason just for the sake of learning.
It is okay to say, "I don't know." For this is the first step in learning something new. In the martial arts, an "I don't know" mind is the wisdom of the warrior. We don't allow ourselves to say "I don't know" often enough. This is because we always know, or we always think we know. Most of the time when we think we know, we don't really know at all. All we know are our past impressions of the situation that is happening now, the conclusions we came to in the past or judgments about similar events or circumstances that happened to us before. "I Don’t know" means keeping an open mind and responding according to circumstances, not according to how we assume things will be.
Being a beginner means letting go of being an expert. We are all experts in something. We may think we are experts in our job, in raising children, in cooking a certain meal or in how we communicate with others. It’s difficult to let go of being an expert. Doing so means confessing that we really don't know anything. What we know belongs to the past. But this moment is new and offers its unique challenges. If I let go of being an expert, I can listen to others with an open mind. Then I can find that even a beginner has something to teach me.
Beginners aren't afraid to fail. When we were children we were always starting something new. Then, as we go through our twenties, thirties, and further, we become more hesitant about being a beginner again. Why? Maybe it's because we don’t want to look silly when we fail. Having a Beginner's mind means it's okay to fall down, it's okay to fail and it's okay to laugh at ourselves when we make mistakes. Tell yourself (and others if they are watching), "I'm a beginner!" Then get up, dust yourself off, smile and immerse yourself in learning something new.
A beginner's mind can transform the way one experiences life. It opens your mind to new possibilities and makes life fun.
In the next section, I list some thoughts to meditate on to help maintain a beginner's mind.
Life lessons to enlightened living
I consider myself a life-long practitioner of the martial arts. Like many other life-long martial artists, the study of karate is a way of life, a philosophy in living.
Initially, when a student starts taking karate classes it is usually for the reasons of self defense, physical health or the sport of it. But, if you choose to progress in the art you learn that karate is much more than that. It encompasses the mind, body and spirit of the practitioner. Humility, patience, self discipline, self control and poise are just some of the life benefits of karate-do. (The Way of Karate) All of these qualities are important to learn for a karate practitioner to advance in the art. An advanced martial artist is taught methods to seriously harm, maim or kill another human being. If a student does not posses a maturity or tempered spirit then learning these advanced techniques could be a danger to society and themselves. For this reason, warriors are held to a higher standard of living.
As an instructor, I will only share advanced teachings to students who have proven their honor, humility and Integrity. My goal in life is to guide my students to be the best they can be. I am a facilitator that offers lessons in being an honorable warrior, a leader and a positive example to others. I take my role as instructor seriously. Everyday I strive to be a positive example and role model. I continue to learn and improve myself as well.
Through the years down my own path in karate-do, I have come to believe eight philosophical principles. I feel that following these principles will lead to enlightened living.
Vashon Borich, Sensei teaches traditional karate & kobudo in Branson, Missouri. She considers herself a life-time student of the arts. Her blog is an open journal of lessons learned in the martial arts. If you are a martial artist and would like to contribute to her blog please contact her.
©2012 Branson Karate & Kobudo™