Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sports v.s. Karate

I’ve been thinking about karate compared to sports. I’ve been in sports since when I was a kid. The first sport that I did was basketball when I was in elementary school. When I was in fifth grade or sixth grade (I can’t remember), I learned how to ski. I went skiing on every Friday for a half day because I was in Special Education classes. I’m thankful that I was able to do that because I had special equipment to help me learn. When I first started, I had a harness connected with straps that a person would hold behind me. One time, I remember I had straps connected to my skies too. I only used those a few times because I mostly used a bungi cord that connected the tips of my skis so I could automatically slow down by putting my skis in a pizza shape. Also, it prevented my skiing going to wide or crossing. In addition, I learned how to ski without poles. Whenever I skied, I had to put a red handicap sign on my torso. When I went up the hill for the first time, I didn’t have to ski on the bunny hill that had a rope tow instead of a chairlift because of the equipment. Eventually, I grew out of the bungi cord and started using poles. However, it took a long time to get comfortable of skiing off the chair lift.

On our field trip at Silver Mountain during Gasshuku, we had to take chair lifts to the top of the mountain. I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable my Sempai were with them. One of them even asked if they had seat belts. Another Sempai said that he was afraid of his life when he first got on. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I was riding with Sempai Brooke and Sempai Linda, I tried to lift the bar in front of us so we could get off. With this ski resort, they didn’t have signs telling the guests to lift the bar. I forgot to ask that I could lift it when guests normally lift them. Therefore, they freaked out and didn’t let me lift it. They only lifted it when the person on the top told them to do so. When I rode with them the second time on the chair lift, they joked with me saying that they were going to push me off the ski lift. I know that I failed to take in account that this was their first time on a ski lift. Probably, many would have acted the same way because the lifts can be thirty feet or higher in the air and all that prevents from someone falling of is the bar in front of them.

When I was in junior high school, I did basketball, softball, volleyball, and track. I quit softball because I didn’t like it. I quit basketball because I wasn’t very good at it. The only thing I was good at was preventing my opponent from getting the ball. It didn’t help me that I was afraid of the ball. When someone passed me the ball, I would take a few steps, stop, and pass the ball back. I couldn’t shoot at all. I wanted to continue with volleyball when I was a Freshman in high school, however; my grades were low and I wanted to work on them before I participated in a sport.

The only sport that I did throughout high school was track. When I was a Freshman I threw disk, shot put, and the javelin. I quit throwing the javelin at the end of my freshman year because it took too much time from disk and shot. During my sophomore year, I would practice shot and disk evenly. I threw my best for shot that was 25 feet when I was a sophomore. During my junior year, I practiced the disk more because I liked and was better at it. During my senior year, I didn’t practice shot at all because it took too much time from disk. I ended up throwing a little above ninety feet at divisionals. I had the potential of throwing 120 feet because I’m tall and muscular. However, my balance, speed, coordination, and mind prevented me from attaining that goal.

Whenever I stepped into the ring, I would tense and freak out. I think that I would unconsciously get nervous because people were watching me. When throwing disk, one cannot be tense and think too much. One has to be calm, collected, and in control. So, I wouldn’t throw a far at track meets when I threw at practice. Many times, I would get so frustrated with myself because my coach said that I practiced much harder than anyone else. Many times, he told me too stop throwing during practice because I would throw too much and he didn’t want me to throw my arm out. In addition, he always told me that I threw like at state champion when I was out in the field throwing. I would practice out in the field more than in the ring because the ring was always being used and because I would get in a lot more throws. Therefore, I became much more comfortable in the field instead of the ring. I don’t think that my coach adequately mentally trained me for throwing in the ring. However, I know that he did the best he could to help me. Now, I don’t throw anymore because it takes too much time from school. In addition, I don’t love it as much as karate.

Now, I’m in a Goju-Ryu dojo. At first, I thought it would be like any other sport; however, I was wrong. Compared to the many sports that I’ve been in, karate is so much harder because it’s nature. Just recently, I learned that it’s not even a sport. Now going through this situation and talking with Sempai David, I can attest to that. Many athletes go by seasons instead of training all year long. Teams are not like families because they don’t have Sempai/kohai relationships. Athletes do not learn about history or tradition. They do not live by a set of principles called the Dojo Kun. They don’t have someone always pushing you to train harder and faster. Coaches do not tear their athletes down and build them back up again. Athletes do not have to abide certain rules or always obey their coach that relates to their sport.

My sister thinks that her sport is harder than karate because she’s in high school varsity volleyball. It may be a little more physically demanding because she practices every day. However, that’s for a season. However, I personally think that training is harder because we train to be fighters. We do not train to have fun and play games. However, I personally have fun because I get to train myself mentally and physically. We train to become better people. We have to condition our minds to think in a certain way when training at the dojo. I have noticed that I can push myself physically harder because of the mental training at the dojo.

Naturally, my family doesn’t understand the dojo and what we do. Even some other martial artists don’t understand either. Many people are telling me to quit the dojo because of many reasons. I do thank people have helped me through this and their opinions. However, I’m thankful that this situation occurred because I have learned so much about the essence of karate and the relationship that’s between my Sempai, my Sensei, and me. If I didn’t experience this, I wouldn’t have grown and still be a white belt at heart. In addition, I wouldn’t have had Sempai David written so much to help me understand what was going on in the dojo. Sempai David said that my Sempai are very strict and hard on me because they see my potential. I also think it’s because they want to train me mentally. In a sport or in any other dojo, I wouldn’t have learned these lessons. Therefore, I want to stay with this dojo and continue with my training. If I go to another dojo, I’ll rob myself important lessons that will make me grow as a person.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coaches do not tear their athletes down

Neither do good senseis or sempais. I've never known a sensei or sempai--other than yours--who has felt the need to tear students down. As I have passed through the ranks from kohai, to sempai, and closer to sensei, I have never felt the need to tear a student down. Build them up, definitely. Tear them down, never!

However, I’m thankful that this situation occurred because I have learned so much about the essence of karate

No, you haven't. The essence of karate is not about abuse, manipulation, and brainwashing. It is about respect, honor, and dignity.

If I go to another dojo, I’ll rob myself important lessons that will make me grow as a person.

No, you will not. If you go to another dojo, you will FIND the essence of karate, and you will TRULY grow as a person. The only thing you will rob yourself of is the confusion, manipulation, and distortion of the martial arts that you are currently experiencing.

I, and the others who have commented on your situation, understand a lot more than you think we do. I cannot stay quiet about this. If I had a daughter and watched her return to an abusive husband time and time again, I could not live with myself if I stayed quiet and let her do it.