New Spirit

Work and family have to be higher priorities than updating web sites with new content, in the past two weeks. A set of photos from the YAB Menteri Besar Selangor Challenge in December 2006 and from the grading are up on the website and on the Flickr site for your perusal. It’s been, to say the least, trying couple of weeks. A lot of people in the general martial arts community, be it friends or strangers have been very supportive of me. I have tons of e-mail relating their bad experiences and also those who have supported my actions and have given constructive criticism and ideas. They have bolstered my confidence that what I am doing is best for me. Most have requested that their comments not be posted on the website, and I respect their request. Knowing that there are others like me gives me great hope. It seems that my provincial blog has attracted attention from far and wide. Today this site has had 1,365 visitors since I migrated from my old web in March 12, 2007. Not too shabby I’d say. My heartiest thanks for your support.

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Recent events have made me reexamine my involvement in the martial arts. A few options came to front:

 1.         To withdraw from public participation in karate-do, and only continue teaching my children. For this option I was rewarded with a sound smack to the head by my mentor, Naka Sensei and a tirade of ‘how much sweat you poured into it’ lectures by my good friend Kenji.

 2.         To affiliate myself with another association so as not to step on anyone’s toes…. another smack to the head. I was reminded that no matter what I do, there is always someone who will not agree with me or with what I do.

 3.         To keep on doing what I am doing now. To keep my faith in my friends.

 There is the easy way to do things. And there is a right way to do things. The two are almost always not the same. What defines the right or wrong way? Look into yourself, and examine your motives. Why do I do this? What do I hope to get out of this? Two weeks of retrospection has led me to this conclusion: That what I do first and foremost is not for myself, my own gratification, nor my own glory. My foremost concern is my students. What do I have to offer them? If I had my way, they would not have to bother about competitions or being National Athletes or medals. They would concentrate on perfecting their kihon waza and kata. This study alone would take many, many years. And I don’t claim to be all knowing and a master in this. I myself am still a student of the arts. Continuously to learn from as many sources and I can manage. In the Muslim Quran, there is a verse that states (this is my own rough translation): That man’s knowledge is but a drop in the ocean compared to His Almighty. A drop in the ocean. And my knowledge is but is speck of that drop. But I strive to be like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It gets bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger as it rolls down. I strive to gather knowledge to make myself better, so that I can offer more to my students. A friend has given me an option that I train fully in non-mainstream karate (i.e., not involved in the politics and association), that I go ‘old-school’. But then I ask myself what if I have a student, a talented student who wishes to go for the National Trials. What can I do for him/her as the teacher? Do I react indignant that my student wishes to something that I don’t particularly like and hence chasing him away despite his loyalty to me, do I ask him to join another dojo that specializes in ‘sports karate’, or do I give him that option myself? It would be selfish of me not to think of my students welfare and future, for I want to nourish their lifelong passion for the ’Do’ and not make a one time fad. I do this by aligning myself with people who have access to such activities, irrespective of my own personal ideas and agenda. Gone are the days when impoverished masters knock on the doors of rich men for patronage. It is the age where service matters. One might not have the best product, but if your after sales service is great then people will flock to you instead of the one who have a superb product but poor service. To have both, great product and great service, would be heaven sent. But reality is oft otherwise. To be trapped in a time warp where one wants the students to obey their every whim without giving due explanation is just simply preposterous. There are still a lot for me to write, but my students have just started arriving for class. Till next time. OSS!!

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