Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (February 20th, 2011)

Kyoshi David Baker, Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA founded by Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro
under the direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione
New York, NY • USA

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A Little Pain is Good

Life is too easy. For countless millennia man worked hard all his life – hunted and foraged for food; created his own shelter, furniture, tools and weapons; fought and killed his enemies.

But now we sit all day for a paycheck that buys us all those necessities, plus previously unimagined luxuries. Our food is better, our shelter and tools superior in every way, we live much longer, even our vacations were inconceivable just a century ago. And, indeed those of us who join the military do so for a finite number of years. In addition, when not at work, we sit to commute, we sit when meeting friends and family, we sit to eat and talk, we sit to read, and we sit for hours of entertainment.

But that’s not how we were designed. We were designed to move about, working hard. All day. For a lifetime.

So now we suffer for the sitting and lack of challenge, both physical and existential. Western civilization has given us everything we need and most of what we want. While we sit. Safe and secure.

And this has made us soft and lazy; and unfulfilled.

Which brings us to karate. Literally.

Because why do people join karate? Physical fitness, self-defense, confidence, and discipline. We join, in large part, to counteract the deleterious effects of modern living. To strengthen our flaccid bodies and torpid minds. And by willingly enduring the discomfort necessary to strengthen ourselves through karate-do, we immunize ourselves against the greater discomfort that results from self-indulgent living. (Hormesis.)

We practice to strengthen, challenge, and push ourselves. And at promotion time to experience the near-terror of standing alone on a large wooden deck in front of a crowd of people, while struggling to manage the adrenaline rush of performing on the spot, the fear of fighting another, and anxiety of breaking boards; before a panel of experts – and the crowd itself – dissecting our every move.

So when we train, we do to the point of discomfort. Even pain. Which on a primal level confirms and validates our very existence. Plus, the act of enduring and overcoming the discomfort during training gives us physical and psychic rewards that the modern world cannot.

Therefore, we join to become strong. And we join to reverse our state within Newton’s First Law of Physics:
1. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.
2. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

That is, by moving and challenging ourselves in karate, we create a body that craves more motion. A virtuous cycle. A positive addiction. A perpetual motion machine.

Because the twentieth class is easier to attend than the tenth. Which was easier than the fifth. Which was easier than the first.

Because once in motion, the body tends to stay in motion. And now that we’re already in motion, we just need to keep that motion going.

We need to keep training.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,
Kyoshi David Baker,
Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA
founded by Grand Master Ansei Ueshiro
under the direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione
New York, NY • USA


kyoshibaker@aol.com