“In the struggle between the stone and water, in time, the water wins”
There are proponents of Karate who feel that karate is best served when everything besides karate moves is kept out of the Dojo; that in order to preserve karate and pass on anything of real value we need to practice and sweat endlessly (without questioning) through the Katas, Kihon and Kumite: the stone.
According to them, all else is fluff.
Having said that, if I were to look back on my karate life, the things that have served me best are the confidence and self-security karate gave me – not the blocks and kicks.
Granted, I love the traditional karate I have learned (and continue to learn). It has kept me healthy and it has taught me to persevere to become better.
But it has also taught me to self-explore and refine the softer skills like energy control, attention to attitude, intention and breathe management: the water.
This week in our dojo, a young guy in the junior class named Harrison Luff stepped up and impressed us with his demonstration on using breathing to control stress. It was in response to an activity that our Dojo started to try to get kids to tell us how karate inspires them. Harrison did a presentation using several different liquids to demonstrate how our minds can become busy and congested, and he then added more solution to show how breathing can help us become calm and clear our minds again. It was an excellent demonstration and Harrison’s Dojo-mates loved it. It was inspiring to say the least.
A number of kids in the class submitted various kinds of art, videos and letters to describe what Karate means to them, as well as to talk about their understanding about what Sensei Power’s ‘Just Breathe’ teachings meant to them.
It became clear that these kids were learning that the water and stone of good karate aren’t separate from one another. As one girl put it, “I do kata outdoors and concentrate on my breathing when I am feeling stressed – and it really helps me feel better!”
The old Japanese proverb quoted above suggests that the water is stronger than the stone. In its patience and persistence, water wears the stone away. The power of water is formidable.
A good Dojo, I believe, is teaching good, traditionally-rooted Karate and it is also teaching higher level concepts that relate to life in society. A balanced mind and a positive attitude – when backed with strong Karate – are two side of the same priceless coin.
Thank you, Harrison, for a very visual demonstration on a concept that every one of us can learn something from. Don’t ever stop questioning, exploring and learning.
Merry Christmas, all. I wish you all the best for the Holidays and Health and Happiness for the New Year!