Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Thought/Technique Archive

Technique of the Week (March 8th, 2009)

From Sensei Bar-Shai, San-dan
Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo


We are all Olympians

Last summer (remember those warm New England days?) many of us observed the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. We watched athletes compete from all over the world; some succeeded and some failed, but they all were in it to win.

What makes an Olympian? Competitor or champion it’s still the same: years of practice, repetition again and again, dedication and focus on the goal, overcoming pain and fatigue and a lot of sweat.

Sound familiar?
A karateka dedicates years of practice in a “lifetime Marathon,” not just to a four year cyclical event.
A karateka repeats the same moves, the same punches, kicks and blocks, the same kata, again and again and again till it becomes part of who s/he is and can be executed without thought or emotion.

A karateka is dedicated and focused on the goal of being the “best that s/he can be”. We have no competitors, not until the day that we have to use our karate to protect ourselves or our loved ones. Until that time our only competitor is ourselves; to be better than we were last year, last week or just yesterday.

A karateka trains in spite of the pain and creates a lot of sweat feeling the “Joy and Vigor” created by an act that can, at times, be transcendental.

Two events, one fictional and the other historical, bring to mind two main principals of the Olympics.
Tom Cruise, as Captain Nathan Algren in the movie “The Last Samurai,” and the Spartans at Thermopolis. Algren was knocked down again and again and again and got up again and again and again, as long as he had the strength to fight back. The Spartans were attacked by the Persians again and again and again and fought back again and again and again until none were left. In both cases they battled against huge odds but did not loose their will to succeed, to overcome, and to be victorious no matter what.

We watched as the gymnasts failed to stick the landing, or fall from the beam.
We watched as runners tripped and fell in the middle of a race or going over a hurdle.
We watched team players crash into each other; miss a catch, a hit or a goal.
But they all continued; they got up off the ground, straightened up, dusted themselves off (at least mentally) and continued to the end.

A karateka too must overcome the odds and surmount the obstacles. The odds of finding time from work and family to train. The odds of a tired body that has worked too many hours at a desk, or sat in a train or plane. The odds of a dojo too hot or too cold or being in a class with 40 deshi in a room that holds 10 or alone, going through the kata by yourself.

A karateka too must keep trying, never letting mistakes, missteps, bruises, falls or other distractions stop us from continuing. We don’t shake our heads, we don’t feel dejected, we don’t show failure. We continue and do better next time.

Domo Arigato,
Sensei Bar-Shai, San-dan
Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo