Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide by Nathan Ligo, excerpt #4.

Fuji Yusuke at Kyokushin-kan's 1st World Tournament in Moscow.

Fuji Yusuke at Kyokushin-kan’s 1st World Tournament in Moscow, 2005.

(Here is a 4th excerpt from the introduction to my forthcoming book, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide: Replicating Mas Oyama’s Budo Karate in the Western Dojo. To read the earlier posts, click on the “Kyokushin Beginner’s Guide” tab above.)

Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends 

Strong spirit or powerful attitudes (such as those described within) in the closed environment of the dojo will run away and become the norm if the majority adopts them. That means that if enough people set off on the right path, it will be next to effortless for newcomers to fall into place. If all their role models are behaving correctly, after all, newcomers will have no doubt as to how they’re supposed to behave. The adoption of powerful attitude, in this case, happens automatically.

This is where any dojo’s karate should be. This is where every instructor should endeavor to bring his/her dojo. Negative trends in the majority, can also, of course run away and become the norm. I’ve watched this occur in various eras of my own dojos’ development. It’s critical that every student carries his/her own weight and understands what his/her role is supposed to be. Hence, I’ve written this book to offer you all a leg up, a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Do your teacher a favor, and take the advice contained within to heart.

The difficulty in the West, of course, occurs prior to when the dojo’s powerful norm is successfully established. When newcomers have powerful role models to compare themselves to, AND weak role models to compare themselves to at the same time, they are presented with an unconscious choice as to how they are supposed to behave. One serious pitfall that occurs is that this newcomer comes to believe (subconsciously) that it’s normal in the dojo to be powerful sometimes, and not powerful other times. Indeed, with this book, I seek to empower new students with the ability to identify, from day one, which behaviors it would behoove them to emulate, and which ones should be avoided.

Indeed, some sections of this book – we could probably go through with a red highlighter and mark them! – address situations in which students have already fallen onto divergent trends. Each time I write one of these sections, I find myself feeling embarrassed because, in them, I confess to folks beyond my own branch that I know these situations and that I know these students, too, and shouldn’t I, after all, be the type of instructor that’s so inspirational that my students should never find themselves off on an environment-damaging divergent path in the first place?

Believe me, I ask myself that question, time and time again. I ask myself “where have I failed these students?” How painful it is to write a section in which I feel like I have to complain about failed students in order to highlight for students who haven’t yet begun how better to avoid the same pitfalls! Students who read who have already formed habits of on-again-off-again strength that don’t belong in the Budo karate dojo can also clearly see that they are on the wrong path, and perhaps that new insight – arriving better late than never! – will help me to help them to move themselves onto the right path.

It’s all about the average.

It’s all about the majority.

Every student should fight to improve the average of his/her dojo, and that fight starts with themselves. How convenient that, in this one case, we can be both ultimately selfless (by thinking only about our classmates’ well-being), and ultimately self-serving, at the same time, i.e. because WE are the biggest beneficiaries of training in a strong dojo!


3 thoughts on “Runaway Spirit and Divergent Trends, A Kyokushin’s Beginner’s Guide by Nathan Ligo, excerpt #4.

  1. OSU! I recently watched this play out in a small class of lower belts. While the orange and blue belt students (sempais for that class) were tentative, the whole class was tentative. But when another orange and blue belt joined the class with confidence and strength, the majority shifted to strength, and the new white belts excelled. It illustrated to me how important it is that each of us bring all our strength to every class!

    • Osu, no kidding. The terrible thing that happens is when sempais downgrade their training when they’re around their koohais. Somehow this is automatic in the West, but backwards. The Sempai’s have to stay powerful (in terms of attitude) even when surrounded by their koohais, and inspire the koohais to increase their intensity.

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