Around 25 years or so ago I read a book that has probably had more influence on my Karate than any other that I have read prior or since, and I’ve read hundreds. What may be surprising to many is that this book not only has no relationship to Karate, but I wasn’t really into what was being depicted either. The book was written by a bodybuilder, as in the six times Mr Olympia Dorian Yates. My curiosity in the book at the time was varied. Firstly, I was interested to learn how to get into the best physical condition possible to enhance my Karate, even though I had no desire to be or look like a body builder. Secondly, how did this normal guy from Birmingham in England go on to become the best in the world at what he did.

The thing that struck home to me was Dorians mindset in comparison to most, he had a single minded determination that set him on the path to achieving his goals and success. Many people have natural skills and talent, many also think that having a positive mindset will automatically determine a successful outcome, but this isn’t always the case, as you can have natural skills or and positivity but still fail to achieve. Now, the first thing I noted was that Dorian researched his chosen subject thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly, but in a totally unbiased way. Whereby he was not taken in by the words of the well-known or the majority in a way that many others are, just like many Karate Ka are too I suppose. He came to his own conclusions through not only a deep understanding of his subject of study, but his own trial and error research too. He did though acquire a firm base in his chosen profession as in body building first though I may add. In comparison I would say this is like the person who joins a local Karate dojo, trains hard for five to eight years or so, then after acquiring a basic understanding of the art decides to take a look at what else is out there…

Body builders at the time were training over long periods say 5 to 6 hours a day. He didn’t believe that was beneficial at all, detrimental in fact. Believing that if you gave it your 100% all in the gym for just 1 hour a day that was more than enough, plus this gave the body time to rest and recover. So he won Mr Olympia by training 1 hour a day… Some may talk of steroids I accept, but that was their even playing field and of no interest to me. There is a lot more to it than this that is for sure.

Many at the time said that you could not eat any poor diet comfort foods let’s say like pizza, milk shake and fries etc. Thus believing that one cheat day per week wasn’t going to make any difference at all as long as you sustained a high level of training. Not just prior to competition though of course. He actually found this to be a beneficial weekly motivation booster. Thereafter training harder because of the crap that one had eaten.

Being focussed on his training was paramount. When he entered the gym he knew exactly why he was there, to train! He wasn’t in there for chit chat or back slapping or to give things 70 %, Dorian only knew about giving 100% and nothing less.  He would even ignore close friends in the gym whilst in his bubble training mindset. Plus, his training was well planned and structured to the point of being highly effective and precise.

An area that had a real impression on me was his quietness in training, that is why they all call him the Shadow. He would turn up, compete, and win the Mr Olympia, then disappear for another year. He just trained hard week in week out diligently with determination in a grotty back-street gym in Birmingham. All done quietly with no fuss boasting or outside distractions. Does this not sound like the training of old in Okinawa…

Mindset he believed was his strongest asset, more so than any muscles that he had. Believing that if you not only train intelligently but are both positive and determined, then anything is achievable. And if looked at wisely all of the above can so relate to Karate on many fronts. So, receive quality guidance and do your research thoroughly. The well known or masses are not necessarily the best or always right. You do not necessarily need to train for hours on end each day, just train regularly. When you practice or train always be focused and do this with seriousness. Most importantly train quietly as this is where the most satisfactory and rewarding training will be really done.