Live the Path
“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”
- Lao Tzu; Tao Te Ching
So, this is how I used to live my life, and how I still see many others do.
They get up, eat breakfast of cereal or toast, drink a hot cup of coffee, jump in the car, get to work, sit at their desk all day, maybe walk to the canteen for lunch or go out somewhere, have a few more coffees over the day, finish work, get changed into their Gi, jump in the car, Rei, and then push themselves like a demon across the mats for 2 hours. Rei, get home, shower, dinner with some TV, then bed – hopefully not as late as last night, but probably after just one more show!!
Does this ring true for some of you? perhaps you have stepped up your game and you make your own lunch, or you have read the latest diet fad and began a “new me” program; but you have hung on to some of the old habits, because it can’t be all bad.
At 25, after living in Australia for a year something happened that would change my life forever. It was a regular night at the Dojo, except for a health and fitness graduate was sitting in on the class. Periodically we were asked, with our consent, to leave the class to receive a weight and body fat check. 26% was what I was sitting at. Now, I didn't feel large, I felt strong, and I was fast, and I had managed to shift some extra weight that Igained from all the green curries I consumed in Thailand.
"You need to consume more protein" was all she said. "What do you mean?" I dumbfoundedly replied.
"If you get enough protein in your diet you will drop the body fat."
Granted this advice was simple, but it certainly worked, for the most part it allowed me to drop 6 Kg of Body Fat fairly rapidly without changing anything else. It was this small change that got me interested in why it worked, and what else was out there; it also set the course for how I should approach my life outside the Dojo.
You see, I used to just turn up and train, then do whatever I liked outside, without consideration to how it affected me, or others. This is what I still see today in so many Karateka. Now, what is the point of this post, to point out that none of us are perfect?
Well, there is that - me included - but the reason I write this is because many of us are fully engaged in our Karate practice, but not in our everyday life. We only turn it on when we bow at the entrance of the Dojo. Yes, perhaps we become more courteous in our day-to-day, or we become more mindful of our interaction with the world, but what about the rest of our life?
This is only part of the way to living your path, this is merely the parts you have chosen to accept and to change. What about diet, what about sleeping right, what about paying attention to your overall physical health and how we engage with our bodies?
So many Karateka pat themselves on the back all too often for their hard-earned training and then go grab the easiest junk food to eat. As for me, I used to eat anything!
Karate is not there to give you a reason to deserve something, training does not mean you can simply reward yourself after. Karate is the lesson to how you should live outside of the Dojo, using moderation, taking note of how your actions affect you, adapting and ever changing how to improve your health, physically and mentally.
Training is both the lesson and the reward in of itself!!
OK, ok; I hear you, I drink beer, and I eat pizza, I have been known to reward myself with these things, I confess; but it is never just because of the day to day training – or without some special social reason. I also try to so in moderation, knowing that we must not over indulge, over consume, or even over train. Too much of a “good thing” can still be bad!! Too much of a “bad thing” is terrible!!
And it is visible every day, people who are carrying far more of their required weight, tying their once ample fitting Obi now only once round the gut. People showing the utmost sincerity to the practice in the Dojo then fooling themselves with alcohol and cigarettes or unfaithful behaviour.
Do you wish to change? Do you wish to live your path and accept all the lessons that Karate teaches us?
Well, it can start with just the right information. This information of course is so freely available across the internet, but how to know what is right, and what is wrong?
Well, sometimes what is out there is wrong, or outdated, or conflicting. So sometimes we just have to listen to those who have already put information to the test and see if it works for us. This is what I have done since that night in the Dojo. Now, over the course of 5 years I have developed more than just good habits for my own health and wellbeing, I look to build ways of living that help others to.
So, how do I walk the walk?
I take ownership of my impact on the environment – cycle, walk, car share, public transport or low-impact vehicles, recycle, reduce my waste especially with packaging;
I take control over my health – low-inflammatory foods, diverse organic and sustainable produce, moderation in consuming, daily exercise, paying attention to the body’s signals for pain, exhaustion and fatigue;
I continually research ways to improve in the above and think critically about the information being provided. I try to think about what can benefit me and what can be of benefit to others.
And I am always trying to improve everyday, exploring new ideas, not simply trying to build myself into a box and thinking I know longer need to change. I also now seek guidance from those who are experts in their field, who have tried and tested before me. I then try to apply their teachings, and to then pass them on. Much like how I approach my Karate practice, and how I look for a Sensei to guide me in the Dojo.
This is the Way i'd like to inspire others - to be their own pragmatist in life!
Always remember that Karate is learnt through the repeating of another person's actions, many actions can also be learnt outside of the Dojo.