One of the things that makes life difficult for many is they never know where they stand with others or who their real friends are. Just like you I have trusted, cared for and entrusted people with my feelings, troubles and more only to have them gossip, tell others or quite simply talk badly about me behind my back. In the Karate world this does happen as well but in the end the only thing that matters is what takes place on the mat in the dojo.
There are a lot of people out there who talk about others. Many times they are just jealous of that person’s success or they truly have never taken the time to get to know the person and understand what has made them what they are. You can’t judge a person based on a short conversation or what they post to social media. Doing so shows your intelligence quote as being very low and much worse than the slandering you do towards that individual. It is a common theme today for people to read a post on Facebook and post back negatively or rude sarcasm towards the person even when they have never actually taken time to get to know that person outside of social media. I truly feel sorry for individuals who take such pathways because the shallowness they must have in life reaches depths that I pray to never encounter.
If only living life were like Karate. In the study of Karate no matter what you say or claim the only thing that truly proves you are great at it is what you do on the mat. You claim to be some great fighter, get on the mat. You claim to be a 10th degree grand master, get on the mat. You claim to have some ancient knowledge that makes you special, get on the mat. No matter what comes out of your mouth what happens on the mat proves if you are truthful or full of it. Sadly, just like in real life, many people talk and won’t step on that mat. They would rather live their fantasy life than actually have to step up and prove what they claim. One of the things I feel very fortunate about is that I learned a long time ago that my actions prove my worth, not my words. The mat is where lessons are both given and learned…even from the highest ranking black belts out there. We are on quest to be our personal best and that drives others away from us because they are jealous they don’t have our willpower or they hate us because we don’t know how to quit. That is the Karate way…your actions define you, you never give up and you set goals and achieve them.
Karate is so simple compared to life because, on the mat, you know exactly where you stand. When a person thinks they are better than someone who out ranks them they have missed the whole point of understanding respect. In life no one gets held accountable for talking smack about their seniors but in Karate what you say will come back to you eventually…we know that as Karma and it is 100% real. If you think you deserve to be a higher rank then that is the reason you are not that rank yet. No one is entitled to such a thing. It is awarded to you when you deserve it, from your seniors / Sensei and not a moment before…regardless of what your ego tells you.
I have been training in Karate over 38 years now and teaching for 25 of them. I never saw my life taking this direction at all. My Karate has taken me all over the USA and some places around the globe. I have met so many interesting people and learned so much from them all because I truly don’t think I am that good at what I do. There is so much for me to learn and the world of Karate is huge. It is a daily struggle for me to market my dojo because people believe that the higher rank you are, the more trophies you win the better teacher you will be but that is not the case at all. I have met 3rd degree black belts that understood how to teach better than higher rank people in the same art. I have also met champions that couldn’t explain anything to help you and people who rarely ever placed in events that could teach you how to be a champion even though they never have been. The other issue is that the way I teach it is all about my students so marketing my dojo based on my qualifications is a true struggle but that is what people want to know…how good the Sensei is. I was always taught you judge how good a Sensei is based on how great his students are, not just in their Karate ability but also as people.
My passion for Karate is so intense that some people think I am arrogant when the truth is I am very insecure about my own abilities. They never take time to get to know me when I don’t have my uniform on to see who I truly am, where I came from or what fuels my fire to help others…all they see is a commanding presence of the Sensei. That presence is what I do on the mat but who I am off the mat is a much quieter, shy and introverted person. Just like them I have struggles, I deal with my demons and fail many times but as a Karateka I just never let anything stop me from aiming for my goals. That also can rub others the wrong way because they see people like as overbearing, to disciplined or to focused but in reality if more people were that way we would have a lot more success in our society today than we have had for a long time.
If life were as simple as Karate you would know where you stand, what your goal is, how to achieve it, what sacrifices it will take to get then and how to become that person you always wanted to be. Sadly life isn’t like Karate. Many times you are left shaking your head because you thought someone was a friend who wasn’t. You are left in doubt because you just aren’t sure what to do or how to handle things. You are left angered because someone wants to talk smack about you on social media that has never even taken time out to get to know who you really are. No wonder my favorite place to be is in a gi, in the dojo or at a tournament because, in those moments, the only thing that defines who people truly are will be their actions, not their words. That also includes myself…I either step up or get out of the way…that is just another reason I love martial arts. Happy Friday the 13th and enjoy your day!