Karate is about improving the character. By improving ourselves, we model a better example for those around us, which in turn improves the society around us. A good karateka should never be cruel, favouring compassion, caring and courtesy. Never a bully, never mean spirited, careful in knowing the words they speak can cause longer lasting damage then their fists and feet. Karateka should never be cowardly, be brave enough to walk away from a fight, when you know you could damage the opponent. Be brave enough to defend the weak, seek the truth, be brave enough to be honest in all areas of life. Brave enough to admit their weaknesses and face up to changes that need to be made.
You drop something into a hole in the ground. Too deep for your arm to reach it. It remains just out of reach. You ask people passing by for help. Those that try all claim the hole is too deep. This story teaches us to come back to ourselves. Ask 100 people and a majority of people will say the hole is too deep. Very few, if any, will acknowledge that their arm is too short. As human beings it is easier to blame outside forces for the failings in our life, rather then admit our own hand in it. (pun intended).
Zen/Karate teaches us to come back to ourselves, to expand from the centre and return to the centre. To acknowledge our short comings. We are the centre of our universe, we must take responsibility on and off the mats for the life around us. We teach people how to treat us, our own subconscious beliefs determine our worth, our levels of determination and perseverance determine whether we settle or make our dreams come true. So breath, return to center, accept responsibility and if your not happy with some aspect of your life, CHANGE IT… Placing the blame outside ourselves, is a victims mentality, and we choose not to be victims.
Never give up, Never give in
Success in the martial arts as in life requires perseverance. Long term training can go through peaks and depressions on the journey to Shodan or beyond. Attitude is everything in the martial arts, never giving up, never giving in is vital. Your opponent will never hit as hard as life. Life will knock you down and keep you down if you let it. As the japanese sayings says, get knocked down 7 times, stand up 8.
In all things be Indomitable in spirit. Rise up, train hard, chase your dreams, study deeply, never settle, never give up, and never give in.
Lesson 3: Be of use
I learned this one from my own Sensei and incorporated into our Dojo rules. In a world of selfishness, following this life lesson changes your outlook on a day to day basis. It moves us away frow selfishness towards compassion and empathy. If you can finish the day, knowing you where of use to somebody that day, it was a good day.
It could be a small gesture, such as helping a mother with her buggy down some steps, to significant life changing acts such as staying up all night talking to a friend who is hurting emotionally. How can your existance today improve someones life today? Can you find the time and will to make a difference in the world around you? Can you be of use to a loved one, a friend, a stranger today, tomorrow, everyday?
Thoughts Are Not Facts
You are walking down the road. When you see your friend on the other side. Unable to cross the road, you wave and call their name. Your friend continues to walk on. How do you react? Many people have different reactions when told this story. Some accept that their friend simple did not see them and thus continue their day. And if they remember they may mention to their friend that they saw them, the next time they speak. Other people feel slighted and ignored. Wondering what they did to their friend to deserve being ignored.
Convinced their friend is not talking to them. They race off upset, determined to phone their friend and find out what they did. Thoughts are not facts. That you think something does not make it true or real. Put emotions, feeling, rationale, and assigning motivations to people without the full facts, makes you react to situations that are not happening. Recognize that thoughts are not facts and learn to respond rather than react for a calmer heathier life
Elite mental training program
Lesson 13 – Mindfulness
Mindfulness means we become present in the moment, aware of one’s actions and environment. Becoming mindful we begin to see the world as it is, not as we expect it to be or what we fear it might become. There is a close link to Zanshin (awareness) and it is contained in Mushin (no mind) . ….
As students we aim to be mindful in our training at all times and to extend that mindfulness to all areas of our everyday lives. It takes continued practice to make this become second nature. Proper correct training leads to increased mindfulness, ideal for daily living and being aware of threats around us.
This week we start our Dojo Kun(rules) Program.
3-5 mins mat chat in each class dealing with one of our 25 Dojo Rules. Most club’s rules involve no eating, no spitting, no shouting etc.
Elite Karate Academy’s Program teaches our students that through hard work and self belief they can make any dream come true. It also covers mental health aspects of basic Zen training and teaches our students to be caring, compassionate and strong willed individuals.
Lesson one teaches the first rule of all karate: KARATE NI SENTE NASHI, there is no 1st attack in Karate, either mentally, physically or spiritually. Karate is for self defence only, to be used to protect yourself or others but in daily life as an aid to improve ourselves and the world around us.
Students of karate grow to become better balanced and higher functioning versions of themselves. The goal to become the most authentic versions of themselves, free from delusions like fear, ego, doubt, greed etc. By becoming better, we do better, and we can influence the world around us by modelling better social interactions and inspiring others.
Lesson 12 – What is Karate?
Karate can be whatever the student needs it to be. Karate can be an effective form of Self Defence, an excellent form of Fitness, a Sport or a Way of Life. Karate does improve Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem but Karate is basically a training to bring a person back to the natural state of mind, they were born with, dispelling delusions. Your real mind or authentic self is an inborn, pure mind and the wordly mind is a mind soiled by evil thoughts and impressions through the experiences of life. Karate aims to restore this soiled, vicious mind to its natural state of purity, as it was at birth.
A baby does not have a complex of fear. A person who narrowly escapes being run over by a car will remain motionless, their limbs frozen by fear. But a baby would continue to move innocently, because they have no fear complex.
The essence of Karate then, is to have a pure empty mind, as at birth, free from doubts, fears, and delusions. This requires years of dedicated training under correct supervised instruction, leading to increased awareness and wellbeing, more mindfulness, reduced stress level and a more positive outlook on life.
Self-Control – Handling your actions properly, choosing the right actions at all times.
We teach your children that self-control is choosing to do the right thing to do and doing it, even when you don’t want to. We ask have they ever been so mad that they wanted to break something? Or so angry that they wanted to scream? What type of world would it be if everyone acted out on their anger? World would be a pretty scare place if people were screaming, yelling and fighting whenever they wanted. Controlling how we act is very important and shows a child is growing up, as babies show no self-control. We teach your children how to deep breath for a count of 10, so they are able to think clearly and not be upset.
We review lesson 1; we know having self-control makes the world a better place , but let’s talk about what it does for you. We ask do they know anyone who had poor self-control? Someone who maybe yelled a lot, always talking during quiet time, or getting angry and hitting people? Who wants to be around someone like that? Self-control helps us get along with other people. If you want to be admired or respected, learn to be a person with self-control. When someone yells at you, stay calm. Show people you are mature and can handle responsibility. You are a leader.
We also teach self-control with regards to their Karate. Controlling your techniques in very important so we don’t hurt or damage our training partners.
Zanshin (Remaining Mind) in English is often translated as awareness but this word does not fully cover the full meaning of the word. One understanding of Zanshin is the accumulated information already processed by the brain, as well as the presence of your character and spirit within the current environment. It is not enough to be an observer in the world.
Warriors with Zanshin have an innate sense of their surroundings and the ability to reach out into the environment to capture information that others might find insignificant or irrelevant. The ever present need for more information is why Zanshin appears to be most present at the end of a technique or Kata. The mind remains present and hungry. It searches for more information and perceives any changes as it occurs.
Zanshin is to fit exactly within one’s environment, ever present and in harmony. Perceiving threats before or after an attack, snatching that seemingly irrelevant piece of information that gives insight into relationships both business and personal, being aware of your own body and emotions and how it responds to the stimuli from the environment around you. Zanshin is an experiential experience. It must be felt not thought, lived not taught.
Zanshin is free of fear, worry, emotion and prejudice. Words may describe the experience but never fully convey the true experience. Once experienced it may be recognised in others. One may experience Zanshin without having Mushin (No Mind), but Mushin does not exist without Zanshin. And we will cover Mushin in a later post.