Monthly Archives: April 2017

Inspiration: That’s My Job


So, mastery in the Martial Arts doesn’t come quickly…or easily.  According to Mas Oyama (notorious for his brutal training and conditioning program in Kyokushin karate) after 1000 days you’re a beginner, and you can look for mastery after another 9000. The thing is, most of us twice-a-week karate people aren’t focused too much on Mastery, but we do want to continue to get better. Getting better requires some rigorous training; rigorous training requires discipline; and discipline requires inspiration.

Inspiration here is more than dragging your arse off the couch to make it to class. Inspiration is finding the spirit to dig deep and go at training like your life depended on it. So where does that inspiration come from?

For the person next to you in the Dojo, it should come from you.

A Shodan should be able to look at the Nidan and say. ‘man, he’s really serious about this stuff!’ And a green belt should be able to look at a brown belt and think ‘that’s where I need to get. I need that spirit.’ If you’re a white belt – oftentimes feeling like a deer in the headlights – your Sensei should be able to look at you and feel like you’re head is really into it: attentive and fired up.

I think we need to own inspiration, and help it spread. No matter who you are, when you tie on your belt you should churn up your karate spirit. (It’s been said that when Guchin Funakoshi donned a Gi he was transformed.)

The karate Dojo is already an excellent place to work together toward the common goals of becoming better fighters and better people, so adding a bit of contagious inspiration is sure to bring the spirit up.

“Be the change!”



Book of Five Rings…Again

After my daughter’s Shotokan class last night, her Sensei, Sensei Brian Power, made a comment that got me thinking…again. He was teaching his class about timing, and after class he noted the Book of Five Rings: “Timing. It’s all in the Book of Five Rings. The Samurai had it all figured out, and so did Nishiyama Sensei and others like Avi Rokah.”

We had a little discussion about this, and it prompted me to revisit the book that I’ve already read a couple of times. Here is one of my underlined passages from Musashi: “You win in battles with the timing in the Void born of the timing of cunning by knowing the enemies’ timing, and thus using a timing which the enemy does not expect.”

Timing in the Void. Timing of cunning. Timing which the enemy does not expect.

There’s enough to study in that one statement alone to keep a Martial Artist busy for a very long time. Karate without understanding timing is like a Corvette with a flat: looks good but isn’t getting very far. Recognizing the Void, the space where there is an opening (subtle dead time), can be like catching a rotating fan with your hand: it won’t work if you aren’t committed.

I’m not well enough advanced yet to write a full blog on timing…I’m just thankful for the reminder about the importance of timing and about Musashi’s book. After all, there’s lots to learn about karate outside the Dojo, as long as you’re taking it into the Dojo to truly figure it out.

(I was introduced to the Book of Five Rings years back by Sensei Bruce Lee. Sensei Lee always caries a copy in his briefcase.)

“Timing in strategy cannot be mastered without a great deal of practice.” M Musashi