23 Jan

I have constructed this four part article to provide you with a practical, interactive example of the manner in which martial arts ideology can influence your daily life, outlook and perspective. In this first installment, I will provide you with a story based upon true experiences within my Issho Dojo. Next week I will post part two of this interactive example. Until then, simply let the following story quietly simmer in your mind.

Whenever a prospective student (hereinafter the “candidate”) enters the Dojo seeking information, inevitably they ask, “How long will it take me to earn my black belt?” My reply is simple. “I do not know!” This usually causes the candidate’s lower jaw to drop, thus allowing the mouth to gap open as if attempting to swallow and understand my reply. I politely allow the candidate to recover. Once the candidate’s jaws are reunited, I continue, “I know nothing about you, so how can I know you ability to absorb my teaching or to what extent you are devoted to understanding that which I teach?”  In an effort to safe face, the candidate usually replies, “Oh, Sensei, you do not understand me.” “I will work twice as hard at earning my black belt as any other student.” To which I nod knowingly, “Then it is clear to me.” I reply. “It will take you twice as long to earn  a black belt.” (See Endnote # 1).

The candidate does not understand that by concentrating on the “object”, to wit: the coveted black belt, one is distracted from absorbing and understanding the knowledge that the symbol represents. One must absorb the knowledge with a pure heart. It is only then that the symbol will be “earned”.

This concludes part one of my four part interactive experiment that I hope you choose to participate in.

Next Sunday, January 30th, I shall post part two of our little interactive drama. In part two you will be given an assignment to undertake.  For your convenience, in following this weblog, I have added two features which maybe found in the right hand margin. The first is an e-mail subscription option and the second is an RSS feed option. You should fee free to subscribe as once activated, you may unsubscribe at any time.

Until then, I remain,

Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do


1. Although this exchange has taken place many times in my Dojo, I do not claim to be the originator of the originator of this idea. The conversation and the concept it illustrates is so deeply entrenched in martial arts philosophy that I cannot even say who the originator of idea is.

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