By Jenifer Tull-Gauger Shihan, 4th Dan
Serenity is the state of being serene, calm, tranquil or peaceful. As the 12-step quote says: it is accepting the things you cannot change. One of our instructors requested serenity for our focus of the month. As a yogi, I associate serenity with Yoga, but is this really a focus in Karate training? After all, more than anything, Karate is what gets me reved up, and Yoga is what calms me down regularly.
Buddha summed up the Yoga principle when he said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” Does this have anything to do with Karate? Well, I know that a karate student, in her training, learns more about herself than anything else. She learns things about herself that she cannot change, and learns to work with them, and she sees things about herself that she can work on. More important, she is given the tools to improve. Also, our students have said they find peace of mind through their training and through practicing the Dojo Kun. So, yes, serenity is an excellent suggestion from our beloved instructor.
Humbleness also has to do with serenity. Learning to be humble is a great antidote to excessive pride, but it should also be used in the opposite situation. Like when I started Karate, I could not do one proper push-up. I wanted to hide my weakness and hope nobody noticed. Instead I had to be humble.
Like Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I had to train hard and seek help and instruction on push-ups, and do more hard work before I could do first one, and later a set, of proper push-ups. I had to be humble and just bring myself, as I was, to the mat, without dwelling on my weakness. Doing that is a form of peace. And in doing so I got stronger.
This quote from Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros sums up how serenity goes with karate: “Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.”