Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Thought/Technique Archive

Technique of the Week (August 17th, 2008)

From Sensei Neff, San-Dan

The High School for Leadership and Public Service Ueshiro Karate Club


Setbacks and Comebacks

Onegai Shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei, Sempai, and fellow Deshi-

“Setbacks are the beginning of comebacks.” [Anonymous]

In the "Kata Answers" section of the Shorin-Ryu Question and Answer book, Hanshi Robert Scaglione quotes the famous yoga master Swami Satchidananda:

“Failure is natural. We should never get disheartened by failure. Nobody has ever achieved anything great without failing. Ask yourself why you failed and learn something. Every failure must be a stepping-stone for your further success. Use all your failures as stepping-stones, one after another; then they are helpful experiences.”

This week I would like to share my essays (plural) for my San-Kyu tests (plural), written in 1997 and 1998:

[First attempt:]

I am very excited to be going to Kyoshi’s (Hanshi Scaglione) dojo in Florida to test on the 35th anniversary of Master Ueshiro’s arrival to the United States. This trip will not only be fun, but a great opportunity for me to learn from many other Deshi.

It is hard for me to believe that I have been in the dojo for almost a year. In one sense it feels so much shorter a period of time, while at the same time seeming much longer. I suppose that is what happens when one embraces something the way I have embraced Shorin-Ryu Karate. Time becomes irrelevant; which I would guess is one of the first steps towards realizing karate is a “lifetime marathon.” I know I am running in that marathon already, for I don’t think I could give up karate even if I wanted to. Karate has become part of my life!

Robert Neff, Yon-Kyu testing for San-Kyu

[Second attempt:]

Going to Florida to train and test was an unbelievable experience. It is hard to imagine that doing Kata incorrectly during a promotion could be such a good experience. It is not that I am happy that I did my Kata wrong, but I learned so much about myself from it.

I know I am not good at handling pressure situations. However, through the practice of karate I am learning (very slowly) how to handle myself in those types of situations. This is probably why I have such a love/hate relationship with testing. Hopefully if attacked one day I will be able to handle the situation while keeping my composure. I believe that to be more than half the battle if confronted by an attacker.

Another aspect of karate I love is that it helps me to deal with my perfectionism. I am a perfectionist by nature. However, karate has taught me that there is no such thing as the perfect kata. In fact I would say little in life is “perfect.” Through my practice of karate I am learning to live with and be content about my imperfections, while striving to improve them.

Robert Neff, Yon-Kyu testing for San-Kyu

Now, ten years later, I'm still learning that karate is not so much a matter of moving through the ranks as it is a journey towards understanding oneself.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu-

Sensei Neff, San-Dan

The High School for Leadership and Public Service Ueshiro Karate Club