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The Switch

posted Apr 6, 2014, 5:51 PM by Eric Banks

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

-Charles DuBois

For months we’d been prepping for a local tournament, spending extra time and working extra hard on our individual kata.  As my assistant Dennis T. and I pushed my students, I also pushed myself in my personal training times, at home, and before students arrived for classes.  My chosen kata was Kanku Sho, one that I enjoy and that fits in pretty well at tournaments.  During those few months, I studied the ins and outs of the movements and dynamics of the kata and I achieved a new sense of the overall form.  But then…just days before the tournament, things changed.

I performed the kata several times prior to the Thursday evening classes, and it just didn’t feel right, for some reason.  I thought maybe I was trying too hard, forcing it and not letting it flow on its own.  So, I tried it again, and while it did feel better, something still wasn’t quite right.  I taught the kids class and then the youth / adult class and after most of the students had left that night, I did it again twice, and while it looked okay, it didn’t feel okay…

When I got home I got the idea to try another kata, Gojushiho Sho, my favorite one.  I hadn’t done it in weeks, months, really, but when I went through it, high stances, no power, half-techniques, it just felt great!  I was like, “Wow, yeah, that’s what I’m talk’ ‘bout!”  Smiling and laughing, I decided that night to change it up, to drop Kanku in favor of Goju.  I figured that switch to be either a genius move or…just the opposite.

Oh, and yeah, did I mention that was Thursday night?   The tournament was set for Saturday morning.

The day of the tournament, I arrived at our dojo early to meet some of the students who were also participating in the event.  I told them we’d do a light and easy run-through of their kata before he headed out.  I went through Gojushiho Sho before they arrived, then worked with them, and then that was it…it was go time.

For most in our group, it’d been years since they’d competed in a tournament, and for one, this was her first.  It was really cool to see so many different people, martial artists, young and not so young, armed and unarmed, who all share a passion for the arts.  As we took it all in, we watched some fantastic kids performing weapons kata, we took group pics and practiced our own forms.  Then, not sure how it happened, before I knew it, I was first to go in my division, aka, the old man group.

I performed Gojushiho Sho, bowed and then stepped off line and watched everyone else do their thing.  Once the group was done, we lined up again and the judges said a few words and then, somehow, still not exactly sure how, they said I won first place.  Gold, with a kata I’d practiced just a handful of times over the past day and a half?  Huh?  Delightfully stunned.  Yeah, the look on my face when they announced my name said it all.

Our goals in competing were simple: have fun, challenge ourselves, and see other martial artists in action.  Mission accomplished.  

Okay, so, I bored ya with this could-have-been-much-longer story just to say: don’t be afraid to change things up.  If you’re a “by the book” guy or a “formula first and foremost” girl, it can be tough to go against your own innate presets, but sometimes it’s necessary, and sometimes, it can be fruitful.  Would I have done as well performing my original kata?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Probably not, actually, if for no other reason than it didn’t “feel” right to me at the time. 

Where do things feel “not quite right” in your life?  What in your world could use a change?  What's not flowing as it should or could?  What's holding you back or down?  Why not switch the script, laugh about it, challenge your comfort zone, and give change-up a chance?