Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

April 22nd 2012

Sensei Sal Scaglione, Roku-Dan
Denshi/co-Shihan Ueshiro NoVA Karate


Warrior Spirit: Being Calm

I often look to popular sports figures to draw analogies from to create parallels to Karate training. Along with this thought, Hanshi Scaglione has described the golf swing of Tiger Woods as means to relate speed to creating power or Michael Jordan’s clutch ability to hit a shot others might not take by using the “you miss every shot you don’t take” mentality.

My thought this week relates to remaining calm, eliminating exited and uncontrolled behavior, and relaxing as opposed to overreacting. I recently heard two basketball commentators discussing the virtues of Steve Nash. They commented on his ability to “slow down” the action and to see the court in full and his knack of making the right play without hesitation. We’ve seen this in many great athletes, as the most successful in their respective sports such as Wayne Gretzky in hockey, Marcus Allen and Tom Brady in football, and Kobe Bryant in basketball. The common element among these athletes and many other greats is the ability to perform under pressure. It’s something that we as Karate students strive to achieve through consistent repetition of Kata training and Yokusoku Kumite. Via these training tools we learn how to react with a steady beat and calmness allowing us to execute without recklessness.

I searched through the green book, “Building Warrior Spirit”, in an attempt to map this concept of calm to a specific precept or element of warrior spirit. What I quickly discovered was that the ability to execute under pressure, when others would falter or “freak-out” and panic, was the culmination of each of the four basic precepts of our Karate training, Gan, Soku, Tanden, and Riki. The blending of these elements can be the difference between success and failure in many aspects of our life, not the least of which might be a street attack.
The ability to slow down the action, to see each attack as it is happening without anticipation, is what our Karate training develops within us. The battles we visualize doing Kata combined with the application of our techniques with Bunkai and Yokusoku training entrenches in our being this reactionary condition of calmness and the appropriate response in any situation. The thought of centering ourselves, of breathing calmly, of seeing the action, of establishing a strong base, and of having the courage to execute with winning in mind, are all things that come to us naturally as a result of Karate.

As I reflected on this thought it occurred to me that as a young adult I saw this same ability first hand, not only on the deck, but in everyday life. I didn’t need to go to the sports page for my real world examples as I had two shining models from which to learn calmness from. Master Ueshiro and Hanshi Scaglione both have provided me with real life moments of clarity and controlled maneuvering in all aspects of life. As a young child and throughout my adult life Hanshi has displayed an uncanny ability to deliver under pressure both as a police officer and as a father—never hesitating to execute no matter the situation. I also learned many lessons from Master Ueshiro, not only on the deck but as he trained me to drive for his company making deliveries in Manhattan. My lasting memory of those times was Master Ueshiro always saying “no problem” regardless of the situation. For him, nothing was ever a problem, no matter how bad the traffic was, how limited the parking was, how heavy the boxes were, or how pressed for time we were to make the airport shipping deadline.

I believe the ability to slow things down and react with confidence and decisiveness as displayed countless times by both Master Ueshiro and Hanshi Scaglione were a result of their Bushi warrior spirit and Karate training. For each of us, these examples of calmness and execution are lessons and a reminder to stay on the deck, work hard and train, in a continuing effort to develop this most vital element of being a Warrior.

Domo Arigato,
Sensei Sal Scaglione, Roku-Dan
Denshi/co-Shihan Ueshiro NoVA Karate