Master Okazaki has written a new book which is due out for release at the end of October, to be entitled: "Perfection of Character - Guiding Principles for the Martial Arts & Everyday Life". It is described as a book about the dojo kun and the niju kun, as interpreted by Master Okazaki.
I'm really looking forward to reading this, and our dojo is planning to pre-order a number of copies because so many people have expressed interest. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I spend a lot of time pondering the ramifications of karate training far above and beyond the physical, beyond the obvious practical real-world applications. When I've had the privilege of training with Master Okazaki, I've always appreciated hearing his insights into some of the personal struggles and the greater meanings of martial arts, so I anticipate really enjoying hearing him expound on this at length, based on his 50+ years in karate.
A quote from the book:
"Karate practitioners and other martial artists must know that the martial arts are about more than physical development, self-defense, and competition; most importantly, they are about continually striving to perfect one's character."
My character, so flawed! In so many ways, in dojo or out of it. Lately I've been tired and grumpy, I've had the cold from hell which is taking me ages to shake off, my best friend's dad died and everything that surrounds such an event was as always so stressful, I've been trying to find the energy to tidy things up and get my act together but keep crashing and burning, leaving much undone and making me even grumpier. I haven't wanted to train because I'm tired, dammit, I can barely make it through class and I ache for a couple of days afterwards, because I'm still weak. I've gone anyway, but I've had a few rebellious thoughts during training ("I don't WANT to do five more of those and this IS full speed for me right now!") and definitely been whiny afterwards. I'd like to think I've still managed to give my all and kept a game face on, but it's cost me dearly.
Is it worth it? Why not just stay home if I'm tired and sick? Why push myself past what I can do? Why let people order me around? Why let someone tell me I'm doing something wrong when I know (oh yes, I know!) that I'm right?
Character, and the perfection thereof. Does karate help build character? Oh hell yes, if you let it. I have left the dojo in tears, exhausted, furious, frustrated, discouraged. I've been rebellious, I've been hurt physically and mentally, I've felt humiliated and I've definitely felt impatient. I have felt fear many times, fear that I'd get hurt, fear that I'd make an ass of myself. I've had people outside martial arts ask why I put myself through that for a hobby, and my answer is that this is not just a hobby. It is karate-do, a path through life that is hopefully making me a stronger and better person, starting with the physical and using the physical as the means of accessing greater and deeper places within me.
Is it working? Sometimes I don't think do, when I pout all the way home from a training, or a tournament, or a test, feeling victimized and frustrated, and realizing that I'm acting like a 5-year-old who needs a nap (which doesn't help the situation). But I keep going back, not because I'm masochistic, but because at the bottom of my anger or embarrassment there is a chance to do something better, something to work on from which I can get a real result if I really try.