We used to have a black belt psychologist that would train at the dojo. I would tell her my views on Karate-do and its connection with mental and spiritual health. She’d be intrigued, nodding approvingly. Right or wrong, it encouraged me to feel more, and share more.
Recently, I met someone that was going through a difficult time with depression and loneliness. This person was telling me how they felt their friends were not present and supportive of them during their time of need. There was a palpable feeling of being the victim, and in an effort to find answers for this person, I turned once again to my years of karate-do practice.
Karate-do practice essentially starts with what is big, and then slowly, and methodically whittles technique down to its essence. Inefficiencies are cast aside and what is not beneficial is discussed, explained, and ultimately discarded. It is hard work, and it takes many years of discipline and recognition to hone movement to its bare essence. In the end though, what one experiences is a light, transcendental movement that combines all the attributes and ideals of shotokan karate-do. Commitment, decisiveness, effortless power, and peace.
When talking to this friend, I used my karate experiences to pare things down to its truth. What dead weight was he carrying that was burdening him? The answer was surprisingly simple. I told him a true friend that loves you should make excuses to be with you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If they are not making excuses to do so, they are making excuses to do the opposite. There’s no in between, just like shotokan karate-do, one is either committed, or one is not. I jokingly told him that “friends” who try to circumvent being around you, supporting you, being connected to you…God forbid if you marry them they are like the women who every night make excuses, and say they have a headache! What a miserable life! Who wants to waste time chasing after that? The real indication of true friendship and a proper relationship, has to have the shotokan elements of commitment, decisiveness, effortless power (insert passion here), and peace. Otherwise one is carrying dead weight that needs to be cast aside. The right friends, I told him, will make every excuse to be with you… physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In the meantime, one must not think one is a victim. One must believe in ones goodness, what they bring to the table, their love, their worth and their value. This needs to be repeated just as we repeat karate techniques over and over again. This is the discipline of honing and whittling to the bare essence…and in time, with experience, one will recognize the unnecessary burden one has been carrying, and rather than feeling the victim or lonely, one will thank the heavens and feel gratitude, lightness, power, and the essence of truth…shotokan’s ikken hitatsu. So I encourage you all to look at your lives and see what is it that you are unheedingly carrying, that is bending your back and creating anxiety. Quickly address it. Shed whatever it is. Guilt. Anger. Shame. Insecurity. Fear. And for those relationships and partnerships where there’s no presence…inform them. If they are not willing to remedy themselves, remedy it yourself and know that your future self, and the loved ones who witness you, will thank you for it, and for the example you’ve set.