Occasionally I or one of our members at Garden Grove Shotokan will submit articles to enhance training or stimulate conversation in areas pertaining to the study of Karate-Do. This month’s topic touches a little on the spiritual side of training as well as comments on attitude.
Some students entering the study of karate feel they have to change religions or study eastern religions in order to be successful. Some with strong religious beliefs (other than eastern origin) even feel studying karate is inappropriate because of this. While teaching karate at CAL State Fullerton I was occasionally approached by students who expressed the feeling that even a simple courteous bow before and after class or kumite (Sparring) was in violation of certain religious concepts.
The study of karate can be used to accomplish many goals. Studying karate is not always the study of religion. Many choose to do this and find it very rewarding but karate alone is not a religion. One may apply a variety of philosophies or beliefs to the religion of intense training including eastern religions. The point is, focused properly through good leadership and healthy environment, this form of study should give one strength that can be applied to just about any belief system and it is the practitioners focus that places the emphasis.
Instructors need to exercise caution on influencing religious beliefs of members who train with them. However, those wishing to add this to their training appreciate the opportunity providing the instructor knows his/her limitations.
Paralleling this is this the subject of attitude on and away from the training floor. Sometimes we get so into the technical aspects of a technique we place too little emphasis on the proper mentality or attitude to accompany it. Remember Master Funakoshi stated “Feeling first, technique second”. One cannot underestimate the years of repetition and training it takes to truly be able to express ourselves 100% in ANY situation. This should be one of our primary goals in training. Our attitude on the training floor will eventually co-exist with our attitude as it applies to everyday life and it may take sometime before one appreciates that the true study of karate is the study of life. The process can have quite a different meaning when it is learned through hard regular training as opposed to verbal discussion.
While I was working as a flight Medic with a local helicopter company, our staff was given an article addressing the subject of attitude. As one reads it I think its interesting how iit may apply to karate training as well as real combat. While we strive in training to gain a greater understanding of our techniques, we all hit walls of boredom over the years. These walls are a very necessary part of training, forcing us to search and obtain a level past the “physical” and into the “mental”. This development is less obvious and more subtle but can lead to the real lifetime benefits of training. Without proper leadership and focus many find it hard to overcome these barriers and thus stop short of the true rewards.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the
impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is
more important than fact. It is more
important than the past, than education, than
money, than circumstances, than failures, than
successes, that what other people think or say
or do. It is more important than appearance,
giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a
company…a church….a home. The
remarkable thing is we have a choice every
day regarding the attitude we will embrace for
that day. We cannot change our past…..we
cannot change the fact that people will act in
a certain way. We cannot change the
inevitable. The only thing we can do is play
on the one string we have, and that is our
attitude…..I am convinced that life is 10%
what happens to me and 90% how I react to
it. And so it is with you…..We are in charge of
Until next time,
Greg Scott, Garden Grove Shotokan