When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:
I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me
I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me
I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull
I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death
I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed
I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes
I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados
I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers
The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn
Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung
WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE
The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated.” - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)
“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)
“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne
Physical Fitness and Karate Training
Often if asked directly I would say that one must be physically fit before they take karate-do or any martial system. It is most likely why I don't teach today. Most of my time in the dojo, before providing instruction and when instructing, was with military systems where most if not all were physically fit before attending and remained that way "outside" the dojo so we could focus on training and practice.
This is a difficult one if you want to run a dojo that at least breaks even if not a profit. I do know that many are successful in this while still remaining faithful to the core of their systems. Yet ...
It seems to me that most who sign up for martial arts are looking more for a means to get in shape with a system that provides more excitement than normal gym memberships. Although a lot of gyms have come up with some pretty cool ways to get in shape other than those I was exposed to as a youth, i.e. weights, free type, running, and of course high school gym classes, etc.
This next statement is made simply as an example of my dilemma when writing about this stuff as to physical fitness, it regards appearances. It may be because I have a skewed view on what it means to look physically fit, i.e. like you can actually do it and that your example is one that others would emulate/follow.
It is like that question I always pose to fellow sport fans, i.e. football. I see coaches and staff on the field leading football teams yet I also see large guts and apparent lack of physical fit persons and that view is not a person who is fit but large, the appearance and such is very evident, they are not fit. Yet, in these instances they are the experts and they are paid large sums of money because they provide teams that win and win big.
In karate, for me, when I visit a dojo I first look at the dojo itself. It reflects who runs it and its appearance and workings project to me a type of person either I would go to for training or not. Particulars are not important for we all haver our own idea's, etc. I also will look at the Sensei and his/her senior practitioners for a preview of their ways in the dojo. Then I would observe to "see" and "hear" how they act and project during a training session.
I can tell you that often I don't get past the dojo but sometimes realizing that not every one can have a dojo but must share it comes down to the Sensei and their methods and way while teaching. I can sometimes view one or two sessions and then come back sporadically to get a feel. But I am digressing so back to the point.
If I see a Sensei that I perceive as not physically fit then I am out of there. I don't judge for me simply if one is a large person they are not fit. I have been a Marine, ten years, and physically fit all my life. I am lucky to have good genes so I can remain, somewhat, slim in appearance. It is not this. You can see in the skin, facial appearances, the way they walk, their movement, etc. regardless of actual appearance to see if they are fit.
If they are not and then I see practitioners who are not or if they are then I am wondering about the disparity between the dojo Sensei and them. I have an example. I have a lot of my systems leading practitioners who created DVD's and/or VCR tapes of their teachings. Of all that I collected I have "one" that literally floored me when I viewed it the first time.
This person was respected so this is not to disparage him in any way YET when I viewed the demo's it was very apparent he should not have made the video's. His appearance and performance was deplorable. He even had one leading practitioner step in and do one kata, Kusanku no te, because there is no way in hell he could drop down to the ground and then twist, spin, up-n-down into the same position at a 180 degree turn, etc. I lost all respect for him when at one time I had a lot.
One caveat here, I don't know if he had some medical thing that caused him issues but truthfully his appearance was one of excess but then again giving a bit of doubt it might have been medical, you never know with out all the facts. Regardless, even if it was medical it should have said, "don't do the video's personally but endorse the seniors to do it for you" in lieu of going out there and projecting the system in less light than it deserved.
The second part of this is practitioners who come into it to get in shape vs. being in shape to attend. To me, karate/karate-do or any martial system, is not meant to be a physical fitness class, i.e. like karate-size (you know, like jazzer-size) classes. I have witnessed some sessions that spent so much time trying to get the participants in shape to participate in the rigors of training that training fell to the wayside.
Ok, off the soap box, who the fu^% am I to criticize this? I am merely providing a view and opinion. If I were actually out there trying to run a dojo outside the military establishment then I might find myself running karate-size classes too. I suspect if it meant food on the table ... yet, I guess that is why I have a day job and practice/train/instruct freely when I can. I just cannot bring myself to do it any other way and I guess that is my burden to bear.
Karate, martial systems, are NOT physical fitness CLASSES! They are meant to be "budo" type systems. If you want to get in shape then go to the gym and sign up for jazzer-size classes. You can get the camaraderie, the club experience, the social benefits, etc. and you don't have to sign up for expensive martial arts classes.
Oh, one last thing, yes, I hear how hard it is to find time to do both, karate and physical fitness, but guess what ... not excuses for if you want it you find time. You work out the logistics. You find the time and do it and if you find you cannot then guess what, your physical fitness and/or martial arts is not very high on your priority and maybe you should stick with the gym and the jazzer-size classes.
If I were to open a dojo right now I would spend the next six months pushing myself to the limits to be more fit than my practitioners/students and I would do what is necessary OUTSIDE the dojo to remain there till I stopped instructing. Lead by example and those who want physical fitness will find they don't really want my karate training.