Osu. I got back from Banff, Canada Monday and the IKO North American International Black Belt Conference. Shihan Stuart Corrigal and IKO Canada host this biannual gathering in the snow covered Canadian Rocky Mountains. The camp was attended by IKO Black Belts from across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. It was led by Shihan Seiji Isobe, Brazil, Shihan Kenny Uytenboggardt, South Africa and myself. Both Shihans are my senior mentors and members of IKO International Committee. It was a pleasure to take their seminar as a student. It is always beneficial to go back to basics and train with a white belt’s perspective. I would like to share one quote by Shihan Isobe, “Karate training is similar to eating. Some students want to do kumite only. It means they only want to eat meat. To be healthy though, you must eat a variety of foods, such as meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, etc. Karate is the exactly same. To be strong, you must do basics, ido, kata, and kumite, etc.” This was a very clear comparison, and I believe all attending students were refreshed to practice all aspects of Kyokushin training with their inner white belt in mind.
I would like to introduce one more story related to the ‘Back to Basics’ mindset. I just read the current “World Karate Magazine”, the IKO Kyokushinkaikan official magazine from Japan. (Japanese only. Sorry.) Our former KKNY Black Belt, Koto Hiraoka was interviewed in the Female Karateka segment. The question put to her was, “Please tell us about a turning point in your karate life?” Senpai Koto’s answer was, “When I was in NY, I could not win in championships and was lonely in a foreign country. My training and matches were only targeted to win, but I was almost crushed by stress because I could NOT win. I was depressed and felt like I was hitting a wall. One day, one of the NY Dojo instructors told me, “Even though the result is important, you should value your competition experience, and enjoy the matches.” This simple advice reminded me of the time I started Kyokushin Karate when I was a kid. I was purely enjoying training and competing back then.” Koto senpai began to think positively and enjoy her training, for the training itself. This new mental approach refreshed her, and this June in Tokyo, Koto senpai took the Women’s All Japan Light Weight title for the first time.
The saying, “Osu no Seishin” means to persevere through adversity. Not only to fight through hard times, but to be positive in any challenge! It is easy to be positive when you are in good circumstances, but you should be even more positive when you are in trouble. Kyokushin training is hard. Why do we continue? Because for whatever personal reason, we enjoy the process. OSU!
“Following the Martial Way is like scaling a cliff – continue upwards without rest. It demands absolute and unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.” ~Sosai Mas Oyama (translated)