Tuesday, November 21, 2017
At our North American training seminar last weekend in Santa Monica, Fujiwara Shihan, the head instructor of Seiwakai International commented, that while the overall quality of the students is generally better, the instructors are getting worse.
Pow! That was like a punch to the gut while I was out there dripping with sweat, thinking I'm being a pretty good example of Goju-Ryu Karate. I feel certain every other higher-level Sensei felt the same. If they didn't, they should have because that was a direct throw-down challenge.
Shihan also told us our experience was our biggest obstacle, that we keep doing our karate the same way because that's how we've always done it. We have stopped growing in the art, but we aren't aware of it.
He didn't say it in an angry or disgusted way...he said it to wake us up.
We do get stuck in our own ruts because most of the time we have no one to look over our shoulders or make the adjustments and corrections necessary to change and grow. I know a lot of senior practitioners and teachers who only sporadically make the attempt to train with the head of our style, or to go to Japan or take advantage of the different opportunities for us to grow. We teach, but do not make ourselves available to be taught. If that is our path, we can only stagnate.
Motivational Speaker Mark Victor Hansen likes to say that every day we either get a little bit better or a little bit worse. Even teachers need teaching. Whether the reason for our avoidance is fear of failure or ego, the result is the same. We can teach karate in our sleep we like to think, but the truth is that we quit seeing ourselves as we have become. Many of us teach and rarely train. We are living with the idea of ourselves, like an out of date photograph, which just isn't how we are any longer.
I decided to do a personal reality check after hearing Shihan's observations. We all need improvement and another set of eyes to become our very best. Our students deserve no less. I accept that challenge.