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Comment On Doing The Work

I want to comment on the Guest Post by my friend, Mark Tankosich, entitled Doing the Work.

First, Mark and I have never met (yet). He lives in Hiroshima and I live in Honolulu. We have become friends via email and blogs. We practice different forms of Karate and different martial arts. About the only thing we have in common is our age.

But it is very strange that Mark and I, with such different backgrounds, think the same about so many aspects of Karate. I have also received email from readers across the world who have expressed the same sentiment. It seems that many of us share the same or very similar feelings about Karate.

What I liked about Mark's latest post is that it really hits the heart of the matter of training -- it is something that you must do. If someone tells us to do something, we are just following orders. But when we are the ones urging ourselves to improve, then it is something else. We are our own Sensei, in a way.

Like Mark, I am always asking myself how I can improve myself, how can I do better? There are some things I would really like to do, such as learning to read and write Japanese, learn Escrima, learn naginata, practice yoga, go fishing, etc. But family, work, and Karate obligations make some of these difficult, at least in the near term.

Self improvement is something only you can do. No one else can do it for you. You can hire or find experts to help you, but it is really up to you. You must do the work. As Mark wrote: "No matter the goal, there is always 'the work' that must be done. Always, and without exception."

I suppose that it is possible to find a person who is good at Karate but poor at everything else. But this would be surprising to me. I have found that Karate experts are usually as demanding of themselves in all areas of their lives. What good would it be to be good at Karate but poor at your daily work, or good at Karate but poor at being a father, or good at Karate but poor in basic communication skills?

I sometimes say that you should be excellent at Karate, but better at other things. By this I mean that if you are truly excellent at Karate, you should be even better at your work, even better at being a father, son, husband, etc. If you are excellent at Karate, it means that you will have demanded more of yourself in all things. Perhaps this another way of saying that you should be well rounded. Another way of saying this is that you practice big Karate (addressing your entire life) rather than small Karate (addressing the physical and techniques only).

You can attend seminars, read books, watch DVDs, travel the world seeking out the greatest masters, but in the end, the work is something you and only you can do.

See, Mark and I agree again.


Charles C. Goodin