Training Inspiration: Quotes for Karateka

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. …” -Mohandas Gandhi. I’d like to add to the Gandhi quote that the only one who can change me is me. That’s because the only one who can control me is me. The same is true for you too.

And so as some of us have done to not only improve ourselves, but to contribute to improving the world, we begin our karate training. The only way to do that is to actually get going. Maybe this karate training inspiration will help you do so. As Clint Eastwood said, “Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands.”

Karate Training Inspiration: “Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” –George Herbert

The above reminds me of the training inspiration contained in traditional Okinawan martial arts Guiding Principle number one: “When asking to be taught, be submissive and free from prejudice. Accept the teachings as shown. In this way you will not establish your own peculiarities or bad habits.” –Shigeru Nakamura.

Getting started is a huge step. But then, you need to keep going. That is not a small task. But continuing training is rewarding, and it is a key to success in many areas of life. “No one succeeds without effort… Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.” -Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950). Maharshi’s words go along with karate’s Dojo Kun number three: “Cultivate perseverance or a will for striving.” –Shungo Sakugawa.

Shungo “Tode” Sakugawa

After training for a while, we need to stay humble and recognize that no matter how good or wise we become, we always need to keep learning. “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” – Meister Eckhart. That quote goes along with Guiding Principle number one above, but also, and maybe more so with Guiding Principle number two: “Be polite and obedient to the master and other superiors. Be courteous among fellow students and followers. You must strive to develop humbleness.” –Shigeru Nakamura.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” -Robert Collier (1885-1950), American self-help author. This makes me think of the more literal translation of the original kanji (traditional Japanese writing) in Dojo Kun #3: “Small steps, taken over time, using the continuing power and dedication of perseverance, will refine one’s higher calling.” –Shigeru Nakamura. That’s where the magic is!

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein. This is similar to the training inspiration in Guiding Principle number three: “Cultivate a spirit of perseverance. You will develop a healthy body if you have strength of mind and train fearlessly.” –Shigeru Nakamura.

Shigeru Nakamura in karate training uniform
Shigeru Nakamura

Inspiration to Keep up Karate Training: “Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” ―Conrad Hilton.

See Dojo Kun number three and Guiding Principle number three above. Also, Guiding Principles six and seven drill, over and over, the need to take it slow, and have patience. These all go hand-in-hand. Number six is: “Move from easy to difficult and from simple to complicated. More time is required to train longer and harder as you progress. Do not hurry or engage in senseless or reckless practice. Develop gradually.” And the second half of seven: …Be patient and study earnestly the katas and matches. Do not aim for hurried success.” –Shigeru Nakamura.

The Dojo Kun and Guiding Principles do not mention mistakes. I think it’s because mistakes are inherent in being human. We will make mistakes. We should not focus on that. Instead, we need to focus on persevering and keeping on the path, one step at a time. The karate masters had the wisdom to know that what we focus on grows. That said, when we do make mistakes, because we will, here are some techniques from on how to bounce back. These can help us to persevere, and to make the ancient karate masters posthumously proud.

 -Jenifer Tull-Gauger

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