In the martial arts world there are many who make statements, make promises and don’t keep their word. When I was a youngster training I noticed this right away but I made a decision to never be one of those “types” of people. Sure, I can understand that there are many things in life that can get in the way of keeping your word but, the way I see it, we should uphold our word as if it were a super glue bond. I have had many people, from friends to students to black belts, make me promises only to back track on them and never see them through to fruition. While it bothers me I don’t allow it to dig at me but I believe in leading by example so I seriously consider anything I say before giving my word of honor to make it happen.
This year at our annual promoter’s meeting for the Professional Karate Commission tournament circuit in Indiana I did just that. For about three years I have been pulling to add a division for the 42 years and older black belts for weapons Kata. We have a division for empty hand Kata but none for weapons. During the meeting it was agreed that they would add the division but only if I promised to compete. It has been over 10 years since I have competed on that level (PKC Indiana has many of the top competitors in the nation) so I paused for a second and then said “yes”. I knew this meant I will have to make some sacrifices to see it happen. It meant figuring out how to budget the extra funds for competition fees, finding the time in my hectic schedule to train harder for it and making sure I did my best. I don’t have any extra funds…at all but I promised I would compete so I immediately set out on a budget. It meant giving up a few things that I enjoy in my personal time but keeping my word is much more important…especially as a black belt.
At the first tournament of the year I showed up, stood at the registration table and was asked “what are you doing in this line”. When I reminder them of my promise I was told “well a lot of people say something and never do it”. My response was “I am not most people I am a real black belt”. They just smiled, agreed and we went on about our day. So i got out there, shook off the rust and placed in both Kata and Weapons Kata to my surprise. We are about half way through the year and I have been enjoying competing again but I miss judging and helping as much for the promoters like I used to. Regardless I am keeping my word and that, in the martial arts world, truly does matter. The bonus is that I am having fun and setting the example for my students which any good Sensei should do. It has been interesting, a great learning experience and very fun.