Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Enthusiasm, tests, nerves and white knuckles

This weekend we had a belt test at the karate school I attend.
It made me think of a CD I listen to of the great motivational legend Earl Nightingale.  He made the statement that enthusiasm is something that can be generated by two things:
  • Learning
  • Goals
An Apple a Day . . .  uh that's an Apple for the Teacher: never mind.

he went on to say how wanting to learn a task keeps us interested and working towards that goal.  it didn't matter if it was large or small just to learn something actively.  Secondly the accomplishment of that goal was a way of feeling that enthusiasm as well.  there is perhaps nothing better than that feel of a job well done.  its an emotion that is hard to explain but worth the pain and effort!  But this also made me think of something else.  Children are natural learners and tend to have enthusiasm, but adults seem to loose the ability to learn and cease many times from being exited or enthusiastic about things.  It is very sad, since we have more years of adult life than we do of childhood. 

Shouldn't we be the ones to lead the way for our children in learning and excitement?

I loved being a judge in the belt tests, but only after I settled down from the initial shock.  Let me explain.  The children and a few adults were being tested, so they were "on the spot" and nervous.  One girl was testing for her 1st Dan, so I could see the concern in her face.  Don't worry, she did fine and nailed all her techniques and kata. I am entering a new area of my life as well, I am a black belt, but I am also being trained to instruct as time goes on and learning Kobudo as well.  I've stepped into a realm that I was not completely familiar with and as a result, now am both conscious and sympathetic of the students while they were testing.  Many times, we think that some judges or proctors may be "unfair" or "harsh".  Maybe they are, or there just jerks.  I do not know in all situations.  However in this case I realized once again that karate and martial arts is about growth.  Not just the growth of power and technique, but about the person as a whole.
We can be sympathetic empathetic and continue to grow just as the lower ranks are striving for the coveted black belt.
By the way, I told Hannah (The girl who tested for 1st Dan) that all of us should continue to learn.  From adult down to child, we should be life long learners.

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Battling windmills with Paper Airplanes

I consider myself to be a bit of a cynic, yet miss the mark on many occasions.  Maybe this is true wisdom. I haven't found out yet.
I noticed something recently from Bible reading and deep thought.  Proverbs says that "A brother offended is harder to be won than a walled city . . . "  and it seems in our society today that there are many arguments both political, social and religious that have de-evolved into nothing more than a shouting match of words and epithets.  Now, I don't mean that this has happened completely, because there are a lot of arguments out there that are not done with an ill spirit to hurt.  It does seem that all the ones that make it to national attention are hyper-emotional and do nothing but get people worked up and only serve to harden a persons opinion in the way it was already going.

This is really a depressing thought.

What I would like to share with you is a word warriors few thoughts of interest on battling the dragon windmill of social debate from, perhaps  an "antiquated"  world view:

  1. Love thy Enemies. . . 
  2. Be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves . . .
  3. To win without fighting is the greatest (method)

I spent quite a few years in street evangelism to realize that in speaking to random people you will get a percentage of people that just want to argue.  What causes this arguing?  A psychologist would give you many answers.  I would narrow it down to one primary reason: Pride

"Contention cometh only by pride . . ."

Pride in the opposition that they hold, or that they are offended, busy or are just plain old curmudgeons!  But even in this, do we love those people in humanity?  An important point to remember is that it is generally not the argument people hate in a debate.  It becomes the person.

it's hard to remember that we wish to win a person to our side and not vanquish that person.  I heard a preacher say (in giving some advice to a person who asked)  that "I don't argue with people, because I already know what I believe".  It's a whole new ball game when we realize, if we are sold on an idea and really know our material, loving, tolerating, forgiving that argumentative curmudgeon is really the best way to keep our cool and strive to leave an impact that doesn't come from an ax kick to the head!

Why a handshake is more than a sign of friendship: Humans use ...

I don't care about winning the Battle, I want to win the war for an eternal soul!

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Abject Exercise

This may seem like an odd title, well... that's because it is. I was thinking the other day of some odd, off the cuff sayings I've heard over the years.  A few of them that come to mind are:

Anyone over 40 who still does martial arts actually practices "Kung-Old-fool"

karate, ha?  Bet you can't stop a bullet!

Having said these obviously pithy but silly sayings, lets look at my title:

"Abject Exercise"

Two seemingly in-congruent words, but they can best describe an adults self consciousness while practicing the martial arts.  Yes, the arts are for self confidence, self defense and even, in some cases, philosophical and spiritual training; but where did the word "abject" come in?
Usually from the meaning and connotation of something that is extremely destitute or embarrassingly bad.  This kind of describes the self image of your average neophyte.  It is odd to the outsider to wear the traditional do-gi (Gi  for short) and practice some of these odd customs.  It is also awkward to attempt to follow the stretches, kicks and punches of a person who is a seasoned practitioner of said martial arts.

One of my Senseis from many years ago would do some traditional Shotokan kicking drills in a forward stance for about 50 feet up and down the mat. These drills consisted of a front kick, round house kick and back kick, landing in the forward stance, then start over again.  He would always comment how visitors thought it was totally awesome to see these dynamic kicks. The were usually enthusiastic about starting.  It was quite another matter after the enthusiasm wore off and muscles were sore.

The new student does not understand the time involved to train to the level of the people they had seen!

The type of learning in the martial arts would best be described by psychologists as observational learning. In short, we see, we do.  Observational learning has four elements:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Imitation
  • Motivation

I will attempt to keep my thoughts on these four elements short, so for the sake of brevity here is a synopsis:
  1. Attention:  We must pay attention.  We tend to listen to a person who is proficient, or has the influence to be in charge.
  2. Memory: If we pay attention, we should retain (knowledge).  A good instructor is able to break things down to a great degree.
  3. Imitation:  This is what gets us in trouble.  Some are naturally uncoordinated and it may take time for the brain to connect with the body.  Other times our pride of "What will people think?" gets us in trouble because we don't want to fail or look silly on the mat. 

Mostly the grown ups here

      4.  Motivation:  Why did we sign up for class?  THIS is where I want to be in my   subject matter.    Lets face the facts.  There is something humbling about jumping around in colored pajamas and yelling KIAH!  but it is the goal we must keep in mind!
Goals are important.  Experts tell us to write down and set goals.  First short term goals to reach the achievable long term goals.  If you have started your "Abject exercise" routine don't give up! remember your goals!!

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Well, here we go again

I remember quite some time back when I would search for blogs of interest and I found that they seemed abandoned.  There were great posts and then, they suddenly stopped.
It seemed like it was well over a year and I wondered what happened.

Then I started blogging and I'm in the same boat!

Some lessons are dangerous, especially if we even get slightly judgmental!

whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.


Well, anyway I'm back again and will blog more frequently.  I spent some time teaching and going to school.  Then another bout with Okinawan weapon. So now I am involved in the practice of learning Bo, Tonfa and Kama forms. Perhaps I was remiss in continuing my blog, but I have found out the hard way that there are only so many hours in the day. I need my time with my family, then I gave an extra emphasis to Bible study, two to three days a week to Karate and a 5 day a week secular job working nights.

It must always be remembered to keep priorities straight, and after God and family we order all other things.  This time I will be more frequent until I unveil my next blog.  I am currently working on another project, which I hope to start in September, but I do want to keep some of my karate thoughts on the front burner as well.

Stay tuned for my next installments!

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beware the ides of March!

This day in history marks the assassination of Julius Caesar.  Historically it points to the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic and the soon beginning of the Roman empire.  Technically, the ides simply means "the middle" IE the 15th of march.

Why remember this?

Without getting into Shakespeare and his historical plays, I want to talk about social paradigms.

Social paradigms seem to change  from generation to generation.  To quote Ronald Reagan

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction"

 After the proverbial smoke cleared from Caesar's assassination, we find the birth of an iron-fisted empire that has influenced the Western world beyond our imagination! 
A little humor, if you get it... get it??

We live in the 21st century.  We can call this modern or post-modern times.  Perhaps history's lessons are lost in a few generations.  This is especially true when we look at the books of Kings and Chronicles!  The Bible commands us to pray for our leaders that we may live quiet lives.  We are also commanded to pray for our leaders, pay taxes and obey the laws of the land (provided they do not contradict the basics of the Word of God).

So where does this lead us to?

Simply this.  In all the activities of our culture upheaval we have a command from the Bible.
Yes I'm talking about Ferguson, race bating and a government that appears to be out of control.  I'm sure both sides of the political spectrum can agree that things are getting worse!

Of course, these are all symptoms of a greater problem:

A life, a family, and a culture without Jesus in it!
If we can get Jesus in the middle of our lives, family and culture many of our social evils will disappear!

Any thoughts?

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday the 14th is Worse

Sometimes we need a silly day.
Saturday the 14th was the name of a really corny B movie for kids. The movie was bad, but the pun is
just too tempting.

Today is also "Pi day"  You know 3.1415, or 22/7??  (March 14, 2015)
It's a silly day but kind of fun because for the most part, America views mathematics as a non fun thing and impractical; that is, unless you are a math geek.

I am not. 
In fact, I have always hated math until I had to fight for a few years to re-teach junior high school mathematics to adult students, and I'm here to tell you that some days it can really hurt.
But, from this experience I gleaned some very valuable lessons:
  1. You are never too old to learn

  2. If something is practical and useful, people will learn it (provided they want to)

  3. Math is all about solving problems (provided we remember the second rule)

In a way, this sounds like Isaac Asimov's  three laws of robotics, but not quite.
To make a long story short, Pi (the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet) is the symbol used for the ratio of the number of times the diameter of a circle goes into it's circumference.  With a few numbers and multiplication or division we can figure out
  • The area of a circle
  • The diameter of a circle
  • Any area or volume of a given object
  • The amount of wire on a spool or coil (with a small margin of error)
  • The amount of material needed to cover or build something
In many ways, a simple math formula is like a karate kata or a doctrine in the Bible. 
It has a deep practical application if we will but take the time to learn. We can actually walk away smarter, better informed, and having made a better decision than if we had otherwise ignored the sage advice.

Now, the Bible and Word of God are of infinitely more value, but can we not glean an understating of the importance of The Word of God  from the simple (or not so simple things in mathematics) things around us?

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

Have you ever wondered why Friday the 13th is so "unlucky"?
Once again we see, as a society, our superstitious side come out.  Add a dash of coincidence and synchronicity and we are lead to believe in something that may, or may not be true.

Friday the 13th

Le Chat Noir Variation by BullMoose1912

For the most part, figuring it out is sort of like finding out what's in a hot dog. 

You may be surprised, amused or disgusted!

The 13th was considered unlucky because tradition tells us that was the day Jesus was betrayed and crucified.

The number 13 is unlucky, once again by tradition because there were 13 present at the last supper.

The number 13 is absolutely disrespected in my opinion.  It is a prime number and valuable in math.
In Japan, they consider numbers like "4" to be unlucky and a black cat is actually good luck.

It's all in the culture.

Sometimes it's good to take a step back!

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate