I'm currently involved in a cardio kickboxing class at my school. Since I haven't been able to participate for the past few weeks due to the concussion, it's been a bit of a challenge adjusting to the extra workout at 8AM every Tuesday and Thursday...but I've found that I really enjoy the class, and while our instructor isn't quite as hands-on and personal as Sensei is, he's a nice guy and I really like him.
Today, he noticed that I was wearing my Refinery T-shirt and he asked me, after holding the pad for my roundhouse kick, whether I was a black belt. I kind of laughed because I'm obviously not, but he told me that he couldn't tell what rank I am because I train so intensely while I'm in class. He said he thinks I work out like a black belt.
Looking back at this morning, that really was quite a compliment! But at the same time I think that's kind of how it should always appear to other people if you practice martial arts. Your actions should reflect your training. Karate is in everything you do. It goes way beyond showing up to class every day; it's in the way you practice and in the amount of effort you put into tasks placed before you. It's in the way you treat people and how you interact with and encourage others who may be struggling. It's in the way you carry yourself and in the way you talk...it's even in the way you demonstrate what you believe. Its everywhere, all the time. The same amount of effort and heart and spirit that you have on the mat, you should also have off of it.
Even if other people don't know that you train in a martial art, if you treat everything as though your training is part of it, they will notice something different about you. This is why we're always practicing, on the mat and off.
I made a faith connection, as well. Just as we should demonstrate our martial arts training in everything we do, we should demonstrate the love of Christ to others in the same way. Jesus should be in everything we do, as well. And just like with martial arts, even if others don't know that we're disciples, if we take Jesus with us everywhere and treat everything as though it is part of being a disciple of Christ, they will notice something different about us. And perhaps our example will be just what someone needs. God uses everything we do for his glory. He works through even the littlest things that seem to hold no significance for us.
So is there karate in holding the door open for someone? Is there karate in offering a friend a quarter at the vending machine? Is there karate in giving your best at everything you do? My answer is yes to all. And in those same things, there is also Christ. What we do with our time and our lives; the decisions we make...they should reflect our training and also God's love. Then we'll really know that we're training all the way.