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Frost Covered Glasses

posted Sep 3, 2011, 4:34 PM by Eric Banks

What we see depends mainly on what we look for..

-John Lubbock


White stuff.  Snow.  As far as my eyes can see...snow.  Fluffy white, dingy gray, dirty brown, snow.  As far as my eyes can see.  I hate snow.  I hate winter.  January and February are annoying, and, by far, my least favorite months.  Period.  Give me the hot, humid, bread-baking, egg-fryin', sunny, steamy days of June, July and August any day.  I love that.  I crave that.  But winter...I hate winter and its friend called snow.  The only good things about wintertime are Christmas, the fact that there are no crazy bugs out buzzin' around, no grass cuttin' going on, and the instant ice water that flows freely from the tap.  Other than that, winter is not cool.


While I don't like January, I do enjoy the first few days of the new year.  Those days are always filled with optimism and if one rightly captializes on that feeling and gains momentum, one can accomplish great things in the new year, even after that feeling of newness has worn off.   The end of one year and the first few days of the next one are magical, introspection-invoking, and perspective changing, if, I say IF, you are willing to seize the moment.


A change in perspective, how you view things, yourself, and others, is definitely needed throughout the entire year.  One of the ways I like to change my perspective in training is by wearing my white belt.  Every so often, that's what I'll do; I'll forgo the black belt and put on the white one.  Instantly, for some reason, my perspective changes.   I feel a certain freedom and a renewed sense of expectation.  Think back to when you were a new beginner, if you are not one now.  In someways, wearing your white belt, being a white belt, is like being a child again; your heart and your mind are filled with wonder and overflowing with excitement.   Remember how sparked you were at attending your first karate classes?  Remember how you thought you would become the closest thing to a real live superhero once you learned all those cool martial moves?  


 A real white belt is ready and eager to learn, and they _know_ that they don't know anything about the art, and this is key.  Only when we acknowledge that there is much to learn, and that we don't know it all, can we learn something new from something old.  As I wrote last time, sometimes we need to let go of some things if we are to advance; in this case, letting go means putting aside the assumptions and attitudes that we've accumulated along the way.  Another way of saying this is the old adage of "emptying your cup" before coming to class...


Viewing things through white belt eyes is essential, so for the next few weeks, everyone in the dojo, including me, will be wearing their white belts again.  We will be reexamining the key topics that we've been studying for the past year or two, seeking a new perspective, striving to go deeper than ever before, questing to reach a new and higher level of skill and development.  Along with several familiar, well-established concepts, we will also be studying facets of the art that we haven't investigated in a while: breakfalls, kata-based throws, advanced timing, combinations, BE usage, tai sabaki, joint locks, etc, etc.  


So as we begin a fantastic year of training, let's see if we can start it with the right perspective that springs from an open and expectant and searching mind, the mind of a true beginner, or a seasoned beginner.  Let's recapture that and harness it, that sense of wonder, and use to take us to new levels in the new year.  And as I gaze around at the frozen landscape through frost covered glasses, I'll do my best to change my perspective, even as I hope and pray for an early summer.