Tonight, while teaching Kata at the dojo, I watched my students working on their newest ones and I noticed that they were just going through the motions. It was clear that they were training but I knew, from experience, that they would not remember the lessons of the day because they were not trying. Of course, being the Sensei, I was first mad, then I was upset, then I was displeased and I even felt really ticked off but I knew dropping them for 100 push-ups wouldn’t help them any so I spoke to them about an old saying I learned back in my green belt days. That was to train “AS IF”…
In and out of the dojo the student should always train AS IF. As if the Sensei was watching them each moment of every movement. As if they were testing for their next belt right there and then. As if each movement was going to save their life from being kidnapped. As if they were being attacked by a robber in their home. As if they were competing for the World Champion title right then and there. As if they were fighting cancer by being active and getting fit. As if they needed each step of the Kata to save their life.
So you can see it is all in the mentality of one’s training. When I did this they suddenly began going harder, working for perfection of each movement, each technique, each stance. Their weak, slow techniques became hard and powerful. Their unbalanced stances became strong and founded. The transformation was not immediate but as they grasped the concept of training “AS IF” they began to really improve. The best part is that they will progress faster and become better at a more rapid pace by understanding this concept…and applying it.
The concept of training “AS IF” led me to become stronger, faster, more focused and built a discipline in me that I can switch on and off when needed. It is much more than just showing up to the dojo and doing the minimal amount when you train in a good Karate dojo. It is about doing your absolute best, maximum effort no matter how your day went, no matter what negatives are happening in your life. When you do this you grow strong in mind, body and spirit. You may enter the dojo feeling down, depressed, like crap but, when you train “AS IF” you always leave feeling good, more confident and better about what comes tomorrow.
This concept doesn’t apply to training in the dojo only. I expect my students to train what they know at home as well. When they can apply the “AS IF” concept outside of the dojo they learn a valuable lesson about achieving goals and being successful in life.
Over the years I have watched many people make it to green or brown belt levels and then watched as they faded away into obscurity. Most them never caught onto the concept about self discipline and training “AS IF”. I have also watched many a new black belt start missing classes, skipping classes because they have not realized that they must train “AS IF” they are that hungry brown belt trying to earn their black belt regardless of the color / rank around their waist. When you can train AS IF you are trying to earn your black belt all the time then you can keep growing, keep improving and the sky is the limit…not just with your Karate but with everything in life.
If more people could learn and attain this concept about “AS IF” then we could see a very good and positive change in our society…at least I believe that with all my heart. As always what we do in the dojo is about making life better outside of the dojo, especially when you study traditional Okinawan Karate because it is a way of life, not just a hobby.
Steven Franz, Shihan
Rokudan Shorin Ryu Shorinkan Karate