Thursday, July 16, 2009

Getting Back to Basics

No matter how long I have been practicing Karate I find it extremely important to always check and re-check my foundational basics. How is my stancework, breathwork, hand and arm location and most importantly, my mind-work? This is why I am so grateful for teaching and having white belts. It makes me not only teach these but look at myself critically, so I can be a good role model.

I encourage all of my Yudansha and upper ranks to take the time and check their basics. It is so easy to get sloppy after years of study. You find yourself interested in new techniques, which is good for growth, but it is easy to lose focus of the basics. My personal workouts, on many occasions, are just the basics. These are the foundational and core strengths that 'advanced' techniques flow from...and work from. Without the foundation all the cool looking stuff we do simply won't happen.

Since Karate is a microcosm of everyday life, I then ask myself, "What are the basics of living?" What are the foundational basics of everyday life? Am I doing these well? For my life, zazen is a foundational basic. Without it I tend to get lost in my monkey mind and find myself getting stressed out, blood pressure raises and irritability reigns. The attitude of my sitting practice I attempt to take with me while I eat, sleep, walk, work, play, etc. This makes all the difference for me. What about you?

In Gassho,


  1. I practice Tai Chi Chuan and Yoga regularily, root and center are very importnat basics in my practice and in my life. If I was to be unrooted or uncentered, things would not flow like they should, it would feel awkward and clumsy. The same in life , if one is not centered then that is what we project to the outside world which in turn creates our insde perceptions of said outside world. Which creates the way we feel. There is center and then there is everything else, when one is not centered then one is everywhere else (scattered) I myself did not discover how uncentered or unrooted I really was until I found my center and root through these arts.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful comment and encouragement. Well said about 'there is center and then there is everything else.' I like that.

  3. One of the saddest things one can hear from a senior student is: "It has been so long since I've done that...let me see if I remember." What the person is secretly saying is "I'm so beyond all that." Basic stances, basic punching and kicking techniques, walking, breathing, all must be constantly retooled. Even now as I train alone, I imagine teaching someone.

  4. Good advice. When practicing alone imagine teaching someone else, because in a way we are. Nonin told us that when we practice zazen alone we are actually sitting with the whole universe. Same goes for our solo Karate practice...when we punch, kick and kiai we punch, kick and kiai with the whole universe.