Shotokan and Spiritual Growth

For the last two and a half years I have studied Shotokan Karate at Rocky Mountian Budokan in Englewood, Co. This is only a part of my martial arts training: 8 and half years in GoJu Karate and almost three years in Aikido.

But here is the thing, its has taken me this long to understand why I have been doing something wrong.  In martial arts its one thing to know a block is not executed properly.  Its one thing to know you are off balance when you kick.  Its one thing to know a strike lacked power, accuracy or effectiveness. It is a totally different thing to know why these things are true.

Let me give you an example.  I have developed the bad habit of using my shoulders, instead of my hips, when punching.  This is poor execution, produces little power and is easy to block. So, just about every time I am in the dojo I here my Sensei’s  70+ year old, Japanese accented voice tell me, “Anderson, stop using you shoulders.”

For the first 2 years I knew my punches were incorrect mainly because my Sensei told me they were.  Then I noticed something.  I noticed what my Sensei noticed.

I noticed why I used my shoulders so much in punching. I have the bad habit of using my shoulder to sling my arms away from by body (almost leading with my elbow like a chicken wing) to punch. What I should be doing is driving my hip forward propelling, my arms along my side, elbows tucked in and rubbing on my hip. This will give me the power, accuracy and effectiveness needed to stop another person by punching them. This will also stopped me from using my shoulders improperly.

I think the same principle is true in our spiritual or personal growth and development.  Its one thing to know something is wrong, out of sorts or not in our best interest. But on a totally different level to know why it is wrong. Knowing why something is wrong, sinful or not in our best interest allow us to get to the root of the problem and deal with real issue.

“The thing is usually not the thing,” I have heard it said.  By in large our actions, reaction and thoughts are only symptomatic of something deeper.

  • A girl may use a bitting comment when fighting with her boyfriend thinking he is her target, but really she is trying to hurt her father because that is how he spoke to her.
  • A co-worker will be critical of a fellow co-worker, not because of the co-workes job performance, but because of their own insecurities of not doing their job well.
  • A husband may not communicate well with his wife, not because he doesn’t like to talking with her, but because he is not comfortable or doesn’t know how to processing his feelings and emotions.

The thing is usually not thing. Knowing you run through relationships like people run through tissues is a “thing.” Knowing why you have problems with commitment, intimacy and trust are other things. If you don’t know what the real issue is and are only willing to manage the symptoms, you, your life and your habits/patterns will never change, truly change.

So begin to dig into why you drink so much, don’t just start going to AA meeting. Think through why you spend so much money on stuff you don’t need, don’t just develop a budget. Explore why you want to look at porn, don’t just get a filter for your computer.

Look for the why, the driving, deeper and often hidden factor and work towards real transformation.


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