I read an article recently by Victor Lopez Sensei titled “Practice and Shut Up”. A great heading for sure and these are sentiments that I strongly share. What surprised me a little was that the article was not centered around people’s lack of training but on varying aspects of Japanese Budo and the depths of understanding that can be achieved through training in Karate regularly. Lopez Sensei had no need to say anything about the heading at all, it is a case of you will either be practicing regularly and consistently to achieve these levels of understanding, or you will not. If you wish to talk good Karate then do just that. However, there are few circumstances where by we personally gain anything by talking. With Karate it is quite simple, all you have to do is shut up, stop making excuses, and practice. Yes! Regular practice will see one make gains, discoveries and overcome challenges that you would not think were possible.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. Muhammad Ali.
From a young age alongside my brother we were taught how to fist fight by our grandfather, and this brought with it many sharp lessons. Being hit hurt was the first one for sure and being able to hit back even harder was the next. There were of course many more lessons to be learned, like having to dig in deep when the going got tough. But, most importantly that everything is in the training and practice because when the talking stops and you have to fight then reality hits you like a ton of bricks. Practising Judo as a junior was just the same, you can understand techniques all day long but to get them to work during Randori on an uncooperating opponent is a skill in itself.
“I think you dance around too much! I think you talk too much! I think you not concentrate enough! Lots of work to be done!” Mr Miyagi (The one off the Karate Kid).
When I’m teaching students I always try to train with or alongside them and not just instruct. There are times for both I accept, the key here and point I am making is not to get to caught up in one’s self-importance as a Sensei. So always be and practice/train regularly as a student of Karate first.
Since returning to practicing alongside students again in the Dojo around six weeks ago, all due to the Covid pandemic. I have always trained in the attire that I normally do when I train alone, which is Gi bottoms and no top or just a t shirt. The students tend to practice in the Dojo wearing their full Karate Gi and Obi as was always customary and is fine. Of which during our last training session together, I smiled to myself as it suddenly dawned on me that the beginners of the Dojo have never seen me wearing a black belt. In fact, my grade or qualifications to teach Karate have never been mentioned by either them or I.
The thing with teachers like Lopez Sensei is that they have, and do, put the hours in inside the Dojo, and it shows. My advice to anyone who seriously wishes to study Karate or any Martial Art is to seek out the quite man or lady of Budo, those who let their actions, Karate and regular practice do the talking, not their mouth…