Tag Archives: Broken Promises

Promises, promises, broken promises “. . . That’s OK”

16 Mar

This week’s post is dedicated to my friend “Dean” who had both a set back in chemotherapy and a disappointment.


There are many ways that the Dojo is a microcosm of everyday life. One example may be found in the potential new student that walks into the Dojo. Let’s take a look at two hypothetical new students. With a nod towards one of my favorite childhood magazines, “Highlights Magazine”, let’s call these two potential students “Goofus and Gallant.”

goofus-gallant-1  Goofus. Goofus enters the Dojo excited and vocal in his desire to learn karate. As is my usual procedure, I tell him he must come back in thirty days. He promises to do so. In thirty days he returns and is proud to exclaim:

  • “See I passed the first test;”
  • “I wanted to learn karate all my life, I’ll start the next class, I promise I’ll bring my check;”

Goofus continues,

  • “I promise to attend every class and work hard;”
  • “I promise to listen to everything you say;”
  • “I promise to practice every free minute at home;”
  • “I promise to be your most devoted student.”

goofus and gallant Gallant. Gallant enters the Dojo and simply asks if it would be okay to quietly observe the class. When class is finished, Gallant thanks me and asks if it would be okay to visit again. I tell him, “Yes” and shake his hand.

Based upon my experience, Goofus will join the Dojo and quit in two to three months (definitely after his first bruise, physically or psychologically). Gallant will eventually join the Dojo and become a devoted student.

Similar stories have been told in varied ways (the most popular being the student that will work twice as hard to obtain a black belt; which will take twice as long). I chose the above to illustrate a specific point that fostered disappointment for my friend “Dean”  – The person that promises the most will be the one the does nothing and disappoints the most.


Promises, promises, empty promises “. . . That’s OK” (Online Kata)

As always, you can perform either the Sanchin Kata, my Shibumi Kata or any karate kata. For my karate brethren, the “Kata Sommelier” has a rare recommendation for this session.

Remember, the group dynamic is not fulfilled by all of us being geographically present, rather, it is fulfilled by each of us performing our kata in the proscribed manner.

Session Parameters:

Date: Starting Monday March 17th, 2014;

Time: Anytime another’s promises exceed their ability to execute them.

Location: Any location;

Salient Points:

  • As you perform your kata rise above the emptiness of the promises made to you;
  • Rely on your own inner strength and “fighting-spirit;”
  • Know that you are a far better person for doing, not for promising and avoiding;
  • In your own mind perform your triumphant kata symbolically “in-the-face” of the one who disappointed you:
  • You are a formidable force – while you welcome the assistance of others, their failure to make good on their promises is of no consequence – you will triumph while the promisor must always bear the knowledge of their failure.

Kata Sommelier: For my karate brethren, I would recommend Kanto, “Fighting Spirit” Kata. Since this kata is very rare, being created by Hanshi Frank Van Lenten to represent his Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai, you may perform any kata within your syllabus with the “Fighting Spirit” of Kanto Kata. Be formidable, unconquerable, you have no need to rely on the empty promises of others; no matter how lofty they tout themselves.

The last requirement of this “. . . That’s OK” session is to remain in a positive physical, emotional and mental state throughout the day by way of the concept of  “Zanshin” (the “remaining mind.” For information on the Zanshin state-of-mind, please use this LINK: https://senseijohn.me/2014/02/23/zanshin-remaining-mind-shibumi-project/

Once again, you may wish to not only perform this “. . . That’s OK” session as scheduled, but may also revisit the session as a regular part of your kata practice.

In closing I remain, doing, not promising,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

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