Last night’s class focused primarily on kicking drills, counter fighting, etc., ala the style of Hajime Kazumi. Countering with low inside and outside kicks, as well as chudan and jodan from close quarters, etc. This along with a lot of calisthenics made for a tough class, as usual.
At the end of the class, sitting in seiza after finishing mokuso, Sensei Fogarasi was commenting on our training and improvement he has seen in some of the students. Some of the students have made quick strides while for others it has been a slower progressive climb, but the improvements come week after week and month after month. It isn’t until we look back to where we started that we really see it. For example the student who struggled with gedans (low kicks), but now as a red belt with tournament experience she is kicking chudan and jodan.
For me, even at my age in my mid 40s I still see improvement, while at times it might feel stagnant.
Sensei reminded us of the dojo slogan with the most important part… the “journey”.
For many, we focus so much on the destination that we lose sight of the journey. And Karate, and in this case Kyokushin, is a journey. Sensei talked about the difference between a trip and journey. Using the traditional metaphor of traveling. Some folks take an expedition, which is planned ahead of time, with a schedule, hotels, transportation, etc. While this can be a wonderful experience, it is more of a trip.
A journey on the other hand, he explains, is travel with or without a destination or itinerary. You are enjoying the landmarks, locations, etc., without the goal of final destination and ending.
In the case of karate, it might be you start with a destination in mind, a certain belt or the ability to do certain techniques, that you start your journey. However, how you go about the journey will have a greater impact on whether you reach the desired destination or not. The journey will involve a lot of highs and lows, decisions, turns, forks in the road, etc., which when taken correctly will take you to the destination.
Sensei says the journey to reach your goals far surpasses the destination itself. Furthermore, the final goal may not be as significant as you’ve led yourself to believe. He tells us to reflect on goals we have accomplished. Would we have reached the goals were it not for the steps taken to get there? The journey to achieve any goal or destination is directed by the person you become along the way, the skills acquired, and the inner growth that takes place.
For many, we read books and see motivation videos devoted to inspiring people on goal setting. We’re warned about setting unrealistic goals, since they’re less likely to be realized. It is advised to form clear and manageable goals, to allow you to chart your progress. However, there is at times a lack of attention to the journey itself, which can completely influence the goals and change them in many, if not most, cases.
When your focus is on the goal alone, you can lose the lessons and experiences that come along the way. Appreciate the journey by trusting that you have the ability to accomplish any task you set your mind upon, once your will and intention are firmly grounded. The journey is the essence of where life exists.
Developing a strong character is something that Sosai Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin, really focused on. And character is shaped on the journey to your goals. Strength of character is developed throughout the journey via the pain, trials and lessons practised.
Inside and outside of the dojo we will call upon these lessons. Those skills will be harnessed at the appropriate time, just when we need them. It could be physically in the dojo, mentally in a fight, or emotionally when dealing with personal issues.
Most importantly the karate journey becomes a continual process of refinement, leading you toward your ultimate victory – true strength of character. As it is said in Japan. True Victory is Victory over Oneself.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your journey today!