(I have previously shared here 4 excerpts from my forthcoming book’s Introduction. The body of the book, however, is made up of 116 one, two, or thee page essays, all describing the ideal attitude to have while practicing karate. All of it is kind of “no duh, of course it’s that way” for the Japanese student, but unless you’ve taught karate in the west, you might be surprised how hard it is to convince the beginning Western karate student how they’re supposed to come in the dojo engaged, rather than passively waiting for karate to fall on them from above. I think you’ll be able to see as you read this first one of the 116 essays. I recently spoke with Annie Gottlieb, my editor for this project, she’s 110 pages in and still loving it. We’re hoping that this is the missing link. Americans, Westerners perhaps, who read this book, will at least understand what’s expected of them as the BEGIN their training in Budo karate.)
1. Fight to be First
This is the central attitude of training in the Budo karate dojo. You might hear it referred to as “having strong spirit.”
It’s not something someone will give you. It’s the attitude that even the whitebelt must endeavor to BRING to the dojo from his/her first week of training. It is a requirement of participation, not something you’ll get over time by waiting for it to come. Ask yourself: What’s the best way to ensure I’m not last?
Answer: Fight to be first.
Consider: Your teacher asks you to line up for class. Everyone fights not to be last, by racing to be the first one to get to their places. Who wins? Well, probably no one. Almost everyone gets to their places at about the same time. This is a UNIFIED powerful action. Good for you! You’re practicing Budo karate. The important thing is not being first, it’s that everyone uniformly fights to be.
What if 1/3 of the students take their time? What if another third doesn’t know where to go and waits, always, for someone to tell them? This is a MIXED action: Some are strong, but most are weak. There is a range of motivation, some eager, some not. This class will fail. It does not resemble training in the Japanese dojo. Ask yourself: How do I ensure that my kiai is not the quietest one?
Answer: Fight to make it the loudest.
How do I ensure that I’m not the one that didn’t hear the instruction? Answer: Fight to be the one that heard and understood it best. How do I ensure that I’m not the weakest student? Answer: Fight to be the one that understands this book better, and fight to be the one who shows it in the dojo. Again, how do I ensure that I’m not the weakest student? Answer: Fight to be the strongest one. Remember 99% of strength is how you behave, not how physically gifted you are. Behave strong by fighting to be the best at adopting the training personality presented in this book, and you will pass the students who are athletically gifted but think too strongly that they know too much to try to adjust their thinking.
Try this one:
How do I ensure that I have the closest relationship with my teacher and can therefore learn the most? Answer: Fight to be best and following the rules of etiquette. Fight to show the strongest spirit by following the ideas in this book. Fight to channel your teacher’s teaching.
Remember, karate IS fighting, after all!
Of course Karate training is learning how to fight! If you don’t fight to be first, fight to be loudest, fight to be strongest, fight to be the best at EVERYTHING in the dojo, you are not practicing Budo karate, you are practicing Americanized play karate, and in the Budo karate dojo you are in the way of progress.
And guess what else!
You are ALSO not learning how actually to fight should you ever have to defend yourself. Your fight to be first, as a student, IS one and the same as your learning also how to actually fight. See #80, To Fight For Correct Training Attitude IS to Defend Your Life.
Change your attitude, even today, fight to be first in all things, and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry if this seems intimidating to you, because you try it, and it’s hard, and then you feel like you’re going to have to be constantly exhausted trying to keep it up.
But then, you’re not exactly seeing the point.
Make it a priority, that’s all.
Train from the heart, allow yourself to feel ashamed if you realize in some certain exercise that you’re the last one, or slipping behind. This is an attitude that you can adopt in one single changing of the mind. Realize what your role in the dojo is supposed to be and this concept will be yours forever. You won’t have to fight a lot to fulfill it, You’ll just have to fight a little.
Deny the concept though? Fail even to try to adopt this way of thinking?
If you do, you’ll not only have to fight a lot, but you’ll also burden the students around you, and the chances are, that you won’t be successful in the end. Your teacher will be working against you, rather than working to support you.
Develop this as a priority though, fight to be first in all things that you do in the dojo, and you’ll be a great success.