Thursday, February 17, 2011

Training all the way

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'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.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Today Sensei and I did a demo at a church. It had a small congregation and they were very warm and hospitable to us. We taught some basic moves (rising block, double punch, front kick...) and demonstrated some kata (Tioga I and Bo Shodan). Afterward, we worshiped and Sensei gave a great sermon. The kids loved it, and it looked like even some of the parents were getting into it!

I was really excited about everything too, because it was the first time I'd been able to participate in martial arts for about two weeks. My concussion headache is gone, but almost every day, I get mini-headaches in various spots on my head. My mom, who is the TBI specialist in the house, isn't concerned with it, though. She cleared me to go back and...well...moms usually have the last say anyway, so I'll be back in class tomorrow! :)

After listening to Sensei's sermon this morning, though, I realized that this two-week hiatus has been really good for me. The main point of his sermon was that it's really important to have a strong foundation in something that won't let you down. Of course, that foundation isn't music, or another person, or even martial's God.

I really really love karate. I'm not sure if everybody in the world knows it yet (I think they do) but right now martial arts is my favorite thing to do. Even music, which is what I've chosen to make a career out of, comes in second to karate at the moment. Training is so much fun and it makes me feel good and I enjoy having the chance to teach and be taught by everybody at the Refinery. Since I began training again, I feel healthier and stronger and I'm at a much higher level of thinking than before.

But Sensei said today that, "If you really really love something and you give it to God, He will give it back to you and it'll be three times better because now you're doing it in His name." (I paraphrased that a little bit, but that's basically what he said). I find it very difficult to consider the thought of giving up martial arts at all, for any reason. I survived these two weeks but I didn't really enjoy not being able to participate. I realize, though, that the only time that I'll have to quit is when I start making my life more about karate than about God. God's gotta come first.

I think this two-week period of frustration and impatience was a good indicator that I've gotten a little bit too involved in karate. I love it so much and that isn't going to change anytime soon, but in the excitement of training and everything I forgot to make God my first priority. I relied on Him a lot over the past two weeks to help me keep my spirit strong and my attitude positive in spite of pain and impatience and anger...and even though sometimes it was tough, God found ways to keep me going and even to work through me in the lives of other people. I guess you could say I got grounded, but in a good way.

It was a great reminder that it's not a matter of what deserves my top priority, but who. It's a little bit difficult for me to think of giving martial arts away because I want to keep it so much...I love training; I treasure it. But after recovering from my concussion, I know now that I can trust God to take what I treasure and to tweak it and refine it and make it work for His glory. And I can deal with that. In fact...I'd be delighted to.