Tag Archives: Self-confidence


14 Feb

The within is submitted to all who tread along life’s journey in a continuing search for knowledge and improvement of that amorphous concept known as “self”. Once again, on the surface, the within article would appear to apply simply to the martial arts. I suggest that on a broader level, the within applies to all aforementioned journeymen.

Whenever a new student would enter the Dojo, I would ask the initiate what he or she hopes to achieve by undertaking the study of Karate-Do. The answers I receive from such potential initiates are as varied as the individuals themselves. There are, however, certain general themes that emerge. One such theme is the attainment of self-confidence. I would like to explore the effect of attaining self-confidence in this article.

Initially, I note that I will not address the mechanics of how and why Karate-Do and other martial arts build self-confidence. I submit that it is axiomatic that self-confidence is discovered and nurtured through Karate-Do. The same is true of other art forms such as music, painting, Yoga and Zazen (seated meditation). In fact any endeavor that mandates periods of introspection by the practitioner will foster self-confidence as a consequence of self-discovery. Having said that, there is a crucial turning point in the evolutionary process of self-discovery that leads to the attainment of self-confidence. The turning point is at the event horizon when one’s self is discovered, realized and defined. It is at this event horizon that one’s awareness of oneself breeds a sense of self-confidence. Once self-confidence is attained, the event horizon dictates that one can undertake two possible future paths.

 Path of Multiple Torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto, Japan

The first path is the path that recognizes that the concept of self (and the associated self-confidence) is transitory and subject to continuing definition and evolution. This path is defined by the idea that while one is awakened to and confident in the person that one is, such a psychological state is merely momentary and subject to the continuum of the life experiences to be had. One’s deeds, ideas and actions are viewed as evolving. By this I mean that continued deeds, ideas and actions incubate and give birth to continued knowledge. Continued knowledge gives rise to new theories, concepts and innovations. Thus, one is confident within the boundary of acknowledging that such confidence extends to one’s ability to continue to embark on the unknown journey of life as it unfolds. If one lacked this confidence, the future unknown journey would stagnate one’s personal quest for knowledge and growth out of fear. On this path, the self-confident journeyman continues the quest in anticipation of unknown knowledge for the purpose of perpetually rediscovering oneself.

The second path is the path that views one’s achievement in the chosen field of endeavor as the pinnacle of the discovery process, to wit: one has become the “best” one can be (The slogan, “Be all you can be” comes to mind). This means that one’s self-confidence is finite in place, time and achievement. This path is defined by ego. The path of ego mandates that one sees the continuum of life not as a process of continued discovery, but as a conclusion to be ratified by the remarkable person that one has become. One’s deeds, ideas, and actions are internally viewed (and to be perceived by others) as omnipotent and mighty. This means that one’s deeds are to be glorified in and of themselves. One’s deeds, ideas and actions are to be viewed as a historical event and as supreme and final. Of course, this is a fiction. Such self-confidence has fallen prey to the Siren’s call of ego. The paradox of this psychological path is that it results in a stagnation of personal growth to be attained by future knowledge. The result is similar to the stagnation experienced by an utter lack of self-confidence. In the former case the stagnation is caused by ego and in the latter case it is caused by fear. Thus, the fulfillment of the paradox.

Everyone is susceptible to falling prey to the draw of one’s ego. So as to be able to fend off the attraction of succumbing to the mythical Siren‘s call of ego, one needs to always bear in mind the transitory nature of life. As much as one cannot rest on one’s laurels, one must always understand that accomplishment is but a portal to future achievement. This is not to say that one need be forever humble. One can, and should, enjoy the successful feeling that comes from accomplishment. One need simply remember that accomplishment which breeds self-confidence should be perpetually challenged and redefined within oneself.

Again, there are many introspective endeavors wherein one can obtain a sense of self-definition and self-confidence. For myself, the mechanism is the continuous study of was Karate-Do and specifically, the study of Kata. The principle characteristic of any introspective endeavor is that it will eventually lead the practitioner to the event horizon of choosing the path of either continuing self-discovery through knowledge or to the path of finite ego. Ego is finite and, being self-propagated dissipates with time. History is replete with examples of the dilatory effect of ego as a factor of time. There are many examples contained in mythology, history and literature. One such example is the following poem, Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is a favorite of mine. I keep the poem in my psychological database as a reminder that the journey for knowledge never terminates. One’s momentary achievements, should be acknowledged but never glorified.


From: Williams, Oscar, Immortal Poems Of The English Language (An Anthology), (Washington Square Press , NY, 1952) p. 295 

I met a traveler from an ancient land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on those lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“my name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside them remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far and away. 

 Colossus Of Rhodes, a 16th Century engraving by Martin Heenskerck, part of the series The Seven Wonders Of The World . While it does not depict Ozymandias, the  picture  perhaps conveys the concept of Ozymandias and is another example of the dilatory effects of Ego.

The remarkable journey to obtain knowledge has presently brought me to the new contextual paradigm of Kata within my methodology and ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (The Way Of (attaining) Inner Salvation Through Kata). Jiriki Kata-Do is a new exploration into the hidden secrets of Kata heretofore believed to be the sole province of the martial artist now extended to all followers of my methodology and ideology. I remain, as I hope you do, a journeyman, willing to share the journey with my initiates. To borrow from Shelley, it is my sincere hope that all remain eager to continue to tread upon the lone and level sands (of knowledge) that stretch far and away”.

The reader may wish to consider the evolutionary process of self-discovery as set forth in my article entitled Dante’s Issho Dojo which is filed in the category Martial ideology Applied To Daily Life. For more nformation on my ideology and methodology of Jiriki Kata-Do, please review the articles herein filed in the category Kata as enlightened meditation.

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free the Sanchin Book page of this Blogsite or visit my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

The poem Ozymandias was from Williams, Oscar, Immortal Poems Of The English Language (An Anthology), (Washington Square Press, NY, NY 1952) p. 295.

DANTE’S ISSHO – DOJO (The Lifetime Dojo Of Dante’s Hell)

7 Feb
As with the other articles in this category, the following need not be confined to Karate-Do or even the martial arts for that matter. A practitioner of any art form, sport or hobby may wish to consider their field of personal endeavor within the following ideology. Additionally, anyone may wish to reflect upon their life’s journey within the context of the following.

I call this martial ideology “Dante’s Dojo“. The ideology involves contemplating your Karate-Do training (or life) in light of Dante’s journey through the gates of Hell as escorted by the poet Virgil.

This ideology calls forth a contemplation of your journey, as escorted by your Sensei, into the “Way-place of Hell” and the rewards of having entered such a place of woe. Anyone who has either trained at my Dojo or attended one of my seminars will recall the various signs that I hang to motivate and invigorate students and seminar attendees. I am especially fond of displaying the following excerpt taken from The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

Though me you enter the woeful city, through me you enter eternal grief, Through me you enter among the lost. Justice moved my high maker: The Divine Power made me, the Supreme Wisdom and the Primal love. Before me, nothing was created, if not eternal and eternal I endure, Abandon every hope, You who enter. These words of obscure color I saw inscribed over a portal; wherein I said: “Master, their meaning is hard for me.” and he to me as one who understands, “Here let all cowardice be dead….” and when he placed his hand on mine, with a cheerful look from which I took comfort, HE LED ME AMONG THE SECRET THINGS. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto III, (Emphasis Added).

Even the most informal reader of Dante is familiar with the last sentence of the above Canto, specifically, “Abandon Every Hope, You Who Enter.” To be sure, there is much insight to be found within the dynamic expression of the gates of Hell as expressed in the Canto; however, for purposes of this article, the significance of the placard to Hell is to be found in the combination of that infamous passage with the last sentence where Dante observes “. . . He led me among the secret things.” I submit that it is in that combination that the true essence of a (traditional) Karate-Do Dojo is to be found. By extension, I submit that concept of Dante’s Dojo applies to anyone who embarks upon a journey of learning the secret teaching of any art.
The placard to Hell speaks in terms of abandoning hope. Within the sphere of Dante’s Dojo, hope is a metaphor for an abandonment of a pre-conceived notion of self. Upon entering the Dojo (or commencing the study of any art form) a new initiate is stripped of all forms of self-proclaimed “status”. Thus, the initiate is liberated from the bounds that contain the human spirit within the confines of an artificial sense of “self“. By way of example, an initiate who is successful in financial matters (and thus “rich“), may be an utter failure in matters concerning relationships or emotional well-being (thus, emotionally and spiritually “poor”). The initiate, by way of the pre-conception of success, is utterly unaware of, or chooses to ignore),those areas wherein he has failed. Such blissful ignorance is derived from one’s spiritual and emotional filters that are designed to deter suicidal attacks upon one’s ego.
It is the mission of the Sensei to actively nudge the initiate along the journey of knowledge while passively guiding the initiate through the pitfalls (physical and particularly emotional) encountered during the Karate-Do journey. In this manner the initiate is physically, spiritually and emotionally broken down to the most fundamental level of self-awareness.
 Sodello Da Goito, Salvatore Dali (1904-1989)
 Within the Dojo the process of stripping the initiate of the preconceived sense of self and self-worth is accomplished on external and internal plains. Externally, the process of stripping the initiate e to the fundamental level of self-awareness involves inserting the initiate into a outwardly homogenous Dojo group. This is accomplished in several ways, including, though not limited to the following:  
 1. The initiate is stripped of his clothes of normalcy and dons a plain white uniform (a “Gi”) that is indistinguishable from the uniform of any other student (save for a colored belt or “Obi” which is discussed later);
2. As to the Gi, there is only but one purpose for wearing it as clothing. It is not necessarily comfortable, provides little warmth and some may say is not fashionable. The sole purpose of wearing a Gi is to train in the martial arts;
3. The initiate must train in bare feet (thus, the initiate is reduced to the status of primitive man, who trod the dirt shoeless);
4. There is no indicia of external status. The initiate, like all other students, is prohibited from wearing jewelry, watches and any other indicia of status (even the fragrance of the initiate’s expensive cologne or perfume is quickly replaced by the odor of the initiate’s sweat);

To be sure, there are reasons and traditions associated with the above, for purposes of this article, I am addressing the above solely as a means of stripping away external factors that outwardly define one’s status as “self”. The above external regime also serves to internally strip the initiate of his spiritual and emotional pre-conception of self. Examples of the internal mechanics of this process include:

1. The concept that one’s ego is left at the door of the Dojo. The sole distinguishing attribute that separates the initiate from the homogenous group is the initiate’s ability. Within the Dojo, the initiate’s ability is a direct result of the initiate’s devotion and determination as filtered by a pure heart and open mind. Notwithstanding the different colored Obi as a symbol of “status”, ithe determinate factor is always ability. To be sure there are times when a “lowly” student of white belt grade will out perform a student of “higher” grade. As Sensei Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan, Menkyo-Kaiden (Goshin-Do Karate-Do), would say, “The man makes the Obi, not the reverse.”;

2. The pervading rule of any Dojo is that “All start at the bottom”. Regardless of one’s position outside the Dojo, all enter at an entry level position. Unlike the corporate world, no-one skips upward to middle or higher management.

3. The result of the above is the ideology that “Nothing is for free.“ All knowledge and thus all sense of self-awareness must be earned. Period.

Once the initiate is reduced to this most fundamental state of awareness, a primordial sense of spiritual and emotional ooze, the journey amongst the secret things begins to have significance. Karate-Do involves a testing of one physically which gives rise to a test of one’s spirit. The same is true of other endeavors such as painting, music and sport. How many times have we heard that an artist “suffered for his art?” The difference is that within Karate-Do there are direct and immediate consequences. An example would be getting punched in the mouth during a moment of carelessness. There is also spiritual and emotional discomfort. For example, in a traditional Dojo (one that does not contractually obligate a student to train) the notion instilled in the initiate that he is free to leave the Dojo and thus quit the process of self-discovery – forever to bear the stain of “failure”. Through this process, ultimately the secret thing to be discovered is an authentic self-defined sense of self and how one’s self interacts with the worldly environment and the universal arena that the drama of life plays out upon. Again, though the process is explored herein within the context of Karate-Do, by extension, it can be applied to any art or life in general.

The ideology of Dante’s Dojo is a continuum. Once one has abandoned the pre-conceived, emotionally filtered sense of self, one obtains the pure, empirical understanding of who one is. This understanding is the secret thing of Dante’s Dojo. It must be understood that the attainment of the secret thing is always transitory. Due to the frailty of the human condition, the attainment of a pure sense of self is always susceptible to the prostitution of its pureness by the ego. The process of contemplation of your Karate-Do training, other art form, or even life itself, within the confines of Dante’s Dojo is a continuing abandonment of any pre-conception of self together with an awareness of the secret things that lie before each and every one of us. To be sure, we are all susceptible to succumbing to the self-defining comfortable notion of who we perceive ourselves to be. Again, this comfort notion of perception is conceived within our emotional filters that are designed to protect ourselves from suicidal attacks upon our ego. It is therefore necessary to continually re-examinine and redefine oneself as “self” in as pure and empirical a setting as possible. For me, the setting for this process is Karate-Do which is euphemistically contained within the “Dojo”. It is important to understand that one need not train within a physical Dojo. One must carry the Dojo within by way of continuous active training and thus, continuous self-examination. It is only when one engages in the regular, oft times Hellish routine of Karate-Do training (and self-evaluation) that the continuum of abandoning preconception is realized. Only then can one continue to evolve and awaken to the secret things of this plain of existence. This is the realm of Dante’s Dojo.

 Hell as depicted in the center panel of a Triptch entitled “Final Judgement” by Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516)

It is upon the foundation of “Dante’s Dojo”, that my ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (The Way of (attaining) Inner Salvation Through Kata) as represented, inter alia, by the Sanchin Kata, was built. On a higher plain of human understanding , intuition and in a new contextual paradigm, the secret things become the secret of not only a sense of self, but a sense of self belonging and synchronization with the universal environment and consciousness. Such a journey though ultimately rewarding and enlightening, often takes nightmarish turns. Thus, one truly passes through the portal (or perhaps a Torii) to Hell.

Within your own training in any art, whether a Martial Art such as Karate-Do (or its ancestral arts of Kung-Fu and Kalaripayat), or a meditative art such as the various forms of Zazen (seated meditation), or Pranayama, or within the confines of your life, consider Dante‘s Dojo. In considering this point, I would suggest that you take a moment and view the “Memorial Page” of this Blogsite and specifically read the quotation of Ernest Hemingway. Now consider how far has your teacher pushed you out to where no-one can help you AND just how far are you willing to go into heretofore undiscovered territory and paradigms. I know the journey I have embarked into the heretofore undiscovered contextual paradigm of Jiriki Kata-Do. The question for you, the reader, is do you know your present journey and comprehend the ramifications associated with how far out you are willing to go where no one may help you – the point where you abandon all hope and dwell in the realm of secret things.

I have recently obtained the above beautiful digital Hanko seal. It will be used to formalize and seal all future submissions on this Blogsite and my website. I highly recommend such a digital Hanko seal. Anyone interested in either a traditional or digital Hanko seal or other unique Japanese product should visit WWW.TheJapaneseConnection.Com

The impact of my having entered Dante’s Dojo is codified in my exploration of the Sanchin Kata as disclosed in my new, innovative (and some may say controversial) new book entitled The Dynamic Meditation Rite Of Sanchin: Gateway To The Three Battles To The Plateau Of Human Serenity. Please see the “Sanchin Book” page of this Blogsite for more information.

The Sanchin Kata is the initial and premier Kata of my ideology and methodology of Jiriki Kata-Do. You may find additional information on Jiriki Kata-Do, by reading my article herein dated December 15 , 2009. Entitled “Kata evolves into a methodology and ideology …” You may also visit my website at WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com

For those readers that have a burning interest in the various works of Dante Alighieri, I would highly recommend the following:

1. For additional biographical, historical and literary information you can visit the following website WWW.GreatDante.Net.  It is an excellent resource center and includes the original Italian language version of Dante’s works and English translations. In other words, it is Molto Benne.

2. For an excellent murder mystery that takes place during the time of the first American translation of The Divine Comedy by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Russell Lowell and Oliver Wendell Holmes (who are all major characters in the book) I would recommend The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. WWW.MatthewPearl.Com
%d bloggers like this: