Be yourself

A lot of people that I teach try really hard to be someone else.  In their eyes they should be like pop or film stars or like fitness models.  I too have been guilty of this, striving towards and pretending to be a better version of myself.  Unfortunately this way of thinking leads to nothing good as we will always have this internal battle between our true self and the false projection.  You will never know what potential you may have until you release your true you.  Since I stopped worrying about who I wanted to be and started to be the person that I truly am my life has blossomed.  I do what I love, I’m with who I love and I’m enjoying life.  Most importantly my life has started to come together and I’m successful, perhaps not in the eyes of others, but in my own, which makes me an incredibly lucky man.  I like this quote by Oscar Wilde a lot:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Here is a fable about a ‘cracked pot’ which describes how we are shortsighted and not seeing our true potential and purpose.

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“A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Be yourself no matter what flaws you may think you have, others might take them as your most valued qualities.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.

 

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OMOIYARI – Philosophy

“Strong and caring people are the pillars of society and Karate helps cultivate them.” Les Bubka

Omoiyari is one of the Japanese expressions that is very difficult to explain to a non-Japanese person. Some say it is thoughtfulness or as Sugiyama Lebra defines Omoiyari “the ability and willingness to feel what others are feeling, to vicariously experience the pleasure or pain that they are undergoing and to help them satisfy their wishes… without being told verbally” [1]. For me personally it means simply caring for others and myself.

This type of caring is sincere and not motivated by reward, we care for others without seeking compliments or gratitude. If we help others expecting an acknowledgment with a ‘thank you’ we are not having omoiyari and we do this for pure purpose of building our ego.

That is why I encourage my students to be helpful to anyone in the dojo as we are like a family where all support each other, but this care is not limited to dojo: we need to care about and help people everywhere.

I often see, especially in big dojos, students training in isolation not willing to interact or share their knowledge and experience with anyone.  We all need to train hard but some Karate adepts coming to a dojo with the attitude of “I’m here to train, to be better myself and I’m focusing on myself”.

This is not the right attitude, this type of training is creating strong egocentric people who in life are so busy focusing on themselves that they ignore all others who might be in need. What we need in society is more empathetic people who can help others.  Through Karate training with omoiyari in mind we can achieve this.

[1] More about the Omoiyari concept

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Les Bubka

About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

Fu Gen Jikkou

 

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In every aspect of life we meet people who say “Don’t worry you can count on me. I’ll be there.”  However, when it comes to take action they do not due to a change in their circumstances.

The same situation occurs in the dojo as many students make big statements such as “Sensei, I’m going to be the best student ever. I will train hard and will not miss any classes, just watch me.” Then invariably something gets in the way. Work, family or health issues arise and so the student is unable to keep his promise. I used to believe in all of these promises and it would raise my hopes. Nowadays I am bit more reserved and just wait. I know that people mean well, but I cannot understand why there is this urge to announce that we will take action?

Ones actions are the truest expression of one’s character. In our dojo we encourage people to act rather than just verbally promise. Making a statement is easy, but it can hurt the feelings of others and discourage trust as the promises are broken. Unfortunately in modern society this seems to have become a norm.  For example, a lot of customer service organisations will promise to call you back and sort things out, but it never happens. We have all been there! Karate encourages students to be reliable and trustworthy via the practice of Fu Gen Jikko.

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Les Bubka

About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

Ko Gaku Shin Philosophy

 

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Poor calligraphy done by me….

Ko Gaku Shin – Keep your mind open to learning. We must remember to constantly learn and study. Always be a student….

As we continue to expand our knowledge and become an expert in our field, regardless of whether this is as a hobby or profession, we can observe the interesting aspects of a master, or an expert in his chosen field. He characterises the hunger for knowledge. Not only in his speciality but in all directions. Everything is interesting and can improve his understanding of his subject.

In Karate we can translate that into watching and learning from other martial arts and sports. Everywhere we can find something that will improve our technique. We should utilise it where applicable. However, having an open mind does not mean we should always look externally for learning. There is no replacement for repetition, practice and self-discovery. You might be shown a technique by many teachers. You think you have understood it and practiced it a hundred times. One day you unexpectedly perform this technique perfectly and then the realisation comes that all of the times before you had been wrong.

This process will continue to happen after hundreds of repetitions then after thousands and then after a million you gain the understanding and confidence in your learning. This technique becomes a part of you and you will tailor it to your body and mind. You will understand that no one gave you the answer, you have found it within yourself. This self-searching, experimenting and confidence in having an open mind is a key to mastering  Karate and other disciplines in life.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.