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Don’t Even Go…You’ll Only Waste Your Time

posted Sep 3, 2011, 4:27 PM by Eric Banks   [ updated Sep 3, 2011, 4:28 PM ]

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”

-Winston Churchill


For years and years, I’ve _thought_ that we, ITKF / Nishiyama style karate, have had some of the top instructors in the world, and now, I _know_ that we do!  In the past year, I’ve been fortunate to receive direct instruction from some of the best and this past weekend, we did it again.  Sensei Avi Rokah gave a tremendous seminar in Chesterfield and Tim and I were absolutely blown away and encouraged through the short time we spent with him.  We were only able to attend 2 of the 3 classes, and at the end of our excellent day-long road-trip, I realized once again something that I’ve known for a long time: simply going to seminars and training with extremely high-level instructors doesn’t make you better unless you are willing to change.  In other words, don’t even go, don’t even waste your time, if you aren’t willing to do the work after the clinic and make the necessary changes toward improving.  Sounds harsh?  Sometimes truth is unpleasant to hear, but these words are just as much for my own benefit as they are for anyone who would read them.


Change is inevitable, one way or another.  Either we put energy into our training (and our lives) and we advance, grow, improve and get better, or we neglect to do so and we slack and slide and our ability degrades; there is no staying on the plateau; either you’re climbing the mountain and improving, or you’re slidin’ down the hill.  And while technique maintenance is necessary, if we are working to grow and advance, maintenance will take care of itself.


Changing our technique, our skills and our abilities is the essence of training.  Everyday we train, we should be seeking deeper and deeper understanding and more advanced ability and knowledge.  The way you execute front kick today should be different (better) than how you did it a year ago, and it shouldn’t be as advanced as you will do it three months from now.  How you view Heian Sandan today should be different than the way you viewed it six months ago.  Yes, the technical principles will be the same, but your understanding and application of those internal principles should be greater. 


Change is inevitable, and change is the essence of our training, and the essence of life.  Sometimes doubts, fears, lack of information, living comfortably in the comfort zone, and / or pride keeps us from being open enough, or humble enough, or free enough to see our need and to evolve.  Since change begins in the heart and mind, maybe we need to change the way we think about change.  Kaizen is a Japanese word that was used a lot at my previous job that essentially means “continuous improvement”.    I like that…we are seeking continuous improvement…that is how we need to think, train and live. 


Whether by inspiration, our own design and efforts, or through circumstances and entropy, change comes.  Sometimes we change, and hopefully improve, by small degrees and sometimes by making great leaps, but either way, change comes.  Take advantage of every opportunity to change and improve and grow.  Come to class with your “cup” empty, participate in seminars with high-level masters with the intent of being better for the experience.   In it all, in your everyday experiences and challenges, you must keep your mind open, for you don’t know it all, there is much to learn; you must keep your heart open for only then can you experience true joy; you must believe that you can change for the better, that you can improve, for belief is really the first step to growth.   And the next time you are confronted with a “change” substitute “kaizen”, and let that be your battle cry: Kaizen!  Let that be your battle cry in training and in your everyday life: Kaizen!