By Paul A. Walker
If you have been studying karate for any length of time now, you have probably come to realize many important insights from your training. From my own study of karate, I have come to notice many interesting lessons. I would like to share some of these insights with you in this article.
1. The most talented students don't always make the best instructors, nor do they even become black belts in many cases, whereas the averagely skilled but highly committed practitioner often makes it to the higher levels.
2. It is a mistake to judge yourself based on the performance and skill of others. Instead, do your best to honestly evaluate your performance in relation to how well you feel that you are fulfilling your potential in the art.
3. Never criticize others for not "getting it" because although they may be missing some of the things that you "get", they may be gaining many other important insights that you haven't yet begun to understand.
4. Don't profess to know anything about karate other than superficial knowledge until you have been training for at least ten years and even then be very careful because as your own knowledge increases, rather than feeling that you know more, you instead realize more things that you do not yet know and the challenge becomes harder once again.
5. If you are a senior grade and a junior grade tells you that they now know a kata or a technique, don't put them down or tell them that they don't know what they're talking about (even if that may be true), instead encourage them to keep training hard and congratulate them on their breakthrough.
6. There are different truths at different levels of training. Learning karate is a sequential process of breaking previous habits and beliefs, forming new habits and beliefs and then perfecting them until you reach the next breakthrough stage. Then repeat the process and find out that what was once clear now makes little to no sense. These are very confusing stages in your training but very important in your growth as a martial artist.
7. Try not to impose your values onto others in your training; try instead to be open-minded. Just because you think that kata is the greatest thing doesn't mean that the die-hard sparring fanatic on the floor next to you agrees. It is important to respect and accept each other's values rather than criticize and judge.
8. All of the above points can be directly applied to all aspects of your life in some shape or form and if you only practice them in the dojo then you are missing the wider picture and life lessons that karate offers.
These eight points can be further condensed into three core values of the martial arts:
· always try your best
· be honest in everything you do
· respect others
Paul A. Walker, is a 5th degree black belt karate instructor with over 25 years experience in the martial arts. He trained at Master Hirokazu Kanazawa’s Headquarters Dojo in Tokyo for three years from August 1996 to July 1999. In 2008 he was awarded his 5th degree black belt by Master Hirokazu Kanazawa.