The Tom Hanks quote, “There’s no crying in baseball,” came out in the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own. Since then, this phrase has gained popularity. We even use it to frame other phrases about sucking it up in other activities and places. That generated the proclamation, there’s no crying in karate!
THERE’S NO CRYING IN KARATE
I understand there’s no crying in karate. Yet, out of all the people I know in martial arts, who is the person who has cried the most at the dojo? I have a confession. That would be me. Nowadays it’s more often when we promote a long-time student who has gone through a lot to progress. But I have had my times in training when tears sprung up for one reason or another. And I did my best to suck it up. Drank some water and composed myself. There is simply no place on the mat for gratuitous crying in order to seek attention.
NO CRYING IN KARATE AND NO YAWNING
In addition to no crying in karate, there’s no yawning either. Okay, so maybe when training we need more oxygen and it just happens. Sometimes we can’t prevent the natural process of yawning. But don’t show your yawn or admit to it. The polite thing to do is cover your gaping mouth, before you pass that yawn around to the whole class and we start feeling tired. One person’s downer energy is contagious. And so is one person’s enthusiasm. Let’s go for the enthusiasm!
THERE’S NO CRYING IN KARATE AND NO “I CAN’T”
Just like we prefer no crying in karate, we highly prefer not to hear the words, “I can’t.” In my experience, this phrase is most common among our younger students. I tell them these are bad words at the dojo. If you say, “I can’t,” it means you are not willing to try. And that is going against Dojo Kun number three, “Cultivate perseverance or a will for striving.” We are developing that will in our students. Additionally, we each have the responsibility of developing a will for striving in ourselves, on a daily basis. The words we tell ourselves, in our heads and out loud, make a difference.
NO CRYING IN KARATE & NO STOPPING IN JUMPING JACKS
Again, I’ve seen this mainly in our youngest students, our Little Dragons. We know they can do the standard 30 jumping jacks as part of the warm-up. We know because they have done them before. Then, on days when they are maybe feeling tired, they just stop and leave out some of the exercise. I hold them accountable by telling them how many jumping jacks they need to make up while the rest of us move on in the warm-up. There’s no crying in karate, and there’s no skimping on the standard minimum of 30 jumping jacks. (With the exception of a medical excuse.)
NO CRYING IN KARATE AND NO LAYING DOWN ON THE JOB
Our time on the mat is short. Even if you have the rare occasion of sitting or waiting, there is no laying down on the job. And “the job” is participating in class. Remember, you are in karate, to learn and get stronger in a disciplined environment. Around class times, the mat is not the place for lounging. You are active physically, or you are studying the techniques and theory, or you are waiting in anticipation of your next activity.
The bottom line: traditional karate provides a framework for you to develop excellence. But that improvement comes from within. And it requires constant attention and consistent action. If each of us takes the initiative to 1) suck it up when it’s time to train, 2) be polite and have spirit, 3) focus on positive self-talk, 4) work hard, and 5) show attention and discipline, then we will create the habits that help make us awesome!