At the beginning of each year, it's a western world tradition to set are New Year's resolutions. Other cultures have similar New Year traditions as well. The New Year's resolution is not just a personal thing at our dojo. It is also a time for a recommitment toward a goal. That goal takes on a different shape every year. One year it was all about speed, another was the year for stances. For one year, I was going to make sure that everyone’s stances were perfect. Now, I did not share that with every student. It was mostly an internal position for me to take as an instructor; however, as I look back on it I probably should have shared it with all of them. So this year I am going to do that. When I set the goal for the year for the dojo, I am going to not only post it but share it with the students as well. That way everybody is on the same path.
I suggest you take a moment and decide what your New Year's resolution is going to be for your dojo. If you have a dojo, or if you are just training on your own, what is your New Year's resolution for your training going to be? It should not just be, “I’m going to eat less butter this year” or “I'm going to hit the gym an extra day a week.” Instead, choose what the focus of training can be. “I am going to move more swiftly” or “Everything I do this year is going to be about generating power.” Whatever you decide, I recommend that these goals take place under the roof of your school as it helps you focus. Pick a goal, and work toward that goal all year. I will revisit this subject the same time next year and see if some of you can report back on how you are better because you set a goal and stuck with it. .
Have a great new year!
I got a call from someone in the television industry the other day; a young, sharp and pleasant man was on the phone who wanted to talk to me about a show on the MTV network called "MADE." The show's premise is "Man bites dog." Take a person, create a fish-out-of-water situation and film it. Apparently, he had found my website while looking for potential candidates in the Seattle area. Here’s how the conversation went. The man says, “A couple of young women in the Seattle area want to become martial artists. So the proposal is this: in six weeks can you take these two young women and make them into martial artists?” “Well no,” I replied. “You cannot do that. However, you can set them on the right path given a foundation, a basic set of skills and vision, yeah, yeah, that is something I can do.” I give him a run-down of my qualifications: I have the experience, a little street cred with a few books, make a living teaching martial arts, and so on. Yeah. I am pretty much what they're looking for until we got to my age. I could tell right there it was going to be a problem. But he put me on the short list, I followed up with a few videos, interview transcripts, articles, etc. and for a couple of days I enjoyed the possibility of being in the running. But when it came down to it, he went with someone else. He didn’t come out and say it, but I’m going to guess I was just a little too old -- ouch. While there is not a lot I can do about that, it was kind of cool to be considered. So at the end of the day I hope the show goes well, and the girls in this episode of "MADE" get a chance to find something in themselves, something that they didn’t know they had before. And hopefully they will turn into martial arts junkies like the rest of us who know that our lives are better for having walked on the floor that first day.
One night at the dojo. I was working with a man from Japan who is experiencing some back problems. We have a medicine chest in the restroom of the dojo that contains all the things that you would hope a medicine chest would contain – bandages tape, and also some aspirin-like products for pain.
I asked him, after he grumbled about his back, if he would like some Tylenol or something. He reached behind his back and rubbed a little bit with his fist and said, "No, I like my pain." I had to think about that for a minute, and then asked him if he would elaborate. He came back with a very simple principle, he said something like, and I paraphrase, "If I'm in pain I'm not doing my technique correctly." Now that is an interesting concept, and one that makes abundant sense. What animal on the planet will engage in a painful experience on purpose other than man? I'm not sure that I can think of one. So if the majority of nature avoids pain, then why shouldn't martial artists? Pain tells you you are doing something incorrectly. So in this instance, the statement, "I like my pain,” Is really not some sort of masochistic declaration, but instead is an acknowledgment of what the pain is teaching. This guy uses his pain to help him shape his technique and that, in my opinion, is very insightful.