Please, Don’t “Please” Me

29 Jun

We all have people in our lives that constantly strive to do nothing more than to please. No matter what the circumstances, these people will utilize great effort to please, notwithstanding how ludicrous their desires and efforts are. There is a tale from the Goshin-Do Karate-Do Dojo that shed’s light upon the ludicrous efforts of those that desire to please. This article is dedicated to all those “Yes-men”, those with the attitude of “Please, please me,” and those who (in the words of a my friend and comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander, R.I.P.) “Drink the Kool-Aid.” Here is another tale from the archives of the Goshin-Do Karate-Do fireside chats. I hope you read and enjoy it, but, a word of caution – Don’t loose your “ass” in the process.

On the island of Okinawa, there lived an elderly peasant farmer, his wife and son. They lived a relatively isolated existence on their meager farm. One day, the peasant decided that he would have to journey to town to sell the farm’s beast of burden, an old jackass that was no longer capable of working. The farmer was nervous about having to journey to the city to sell the jackass, so he took along his young son to help him interact with the people he would surely meet along the way.
The next morning, the farmer and his son harnessed the jack ass and set out on the long road to the city. Along the way, the encountered a group of young school girls. “Look at those two”, laughed one of the girls, “They are so foolish to walk alongside that animal when they could easily be riding upon it.” After passing the girls, the farmer pauses and whispers to his son that he will not look foolish and instructed him to get on the jackass.
Further along the road, they encountered a group of old men relaxing under the shade of a tree. The farmer overheard on of the men. “You see, my friends, the young no longer respect the old.” The man then yelled at the son, “Get off that jackass so that your old father may ride upon him!” The old farmer immediately told his son to comply and mounted the animal as his son walked alongside.
Continuing of their journey, the pair come upon a group of women and their infants. The women scolded the old farmer for riding the jackass while his “poor little child” had to walk alongside. Not wanting to look foolish, the farmer hoisted his son up onto the back of the jackass and the two rode of together.
Around the next curve in the road, the farmer and son came across a farmer tending his fields. The farmer waived and called out, “If that is your animal, why treat him so badly?” “The two of you should carry him.” The two immediately got off the jackass and tied the animal’s legs to a sturdy pole and hoisted the beast upon their shoulders.
In this manner they clumsily continued on their way. They started to stagger across a bridge high over a stream when the old farmer lost his balance. The jackass teetered for a moment and then fell over the bridge down into the river below.
Confused and ashamed, the old man and his son made their way home. Once home, the farmers old wife scolded her husband for trying to please everyone and loosing his ass in the process.

I hope you enjoyed the within tale.

It would greatly please me if you took its message to heart. Until the next article, I remain,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

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2 Responses to “Please, Don’t “Please” Me”

  1. ed June 29, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    I prefer that the Dojo have two ranks: Teacher and Student. Eliminating belts would help reduce people trying to please the instructor or those in the promotion process. Martial Arts is about fighting and either you can or cannot. I am not talking about elimination of Respect for a Tradition & Teacher and the knowledge passed on from the Teachers. The only thing, IMO, that is important is to listen respectfully & attentively to your Teacher, put his/her direction into practice and then practice diligently. With age, power may decline but technique can be refined endlessly. The best way to please anyone is to practice diligently, daily and without any idea that any technique can ever be mastered. Always be a student. Just another unsolicited opinion…

    • Sensei John July 1, 2015 at 8:27 am #

      Hello Ed:
      Thank-you for taking the time to comment. I agree 100% with you as to a Dojo having only two ranks.Rank is nothing but a distraction and a burden. Diligent daily practice is the way to honor your teachers and yourself. I know eventually I will master my karate-do – that day is inevitable – for my mastery will be realized in the final instant that I exhale my last breath, until then, I will always remain a student.
      Again, thanks for the comment. My best,
      – – – Sensei John

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