“Do I have to practice this again? I know how to do it already. Why can’t I learn the next punch and the next kata? Do I still have to do the things that WHITE BELTS do?!?” Have you ever felt agitated with your instructor for having you drill basics when you already “know” them? You’re not alone. “Basics again?” is a common question asked by karate students. In actual fact you could probably handle some of the more advanced techniques but slow down “grasshopper”, your sensei has much logic to the drilling of basics. After all, who doesn’t remember the classic scene in the movie The Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi has Daniel-san “wax on and wax off” for hours on end to the point of frustration? Daniel-san is made to polish cars and paint fences until he can’t take any more. At this point Mr. Miyagi steps in and ‘enlightens’ Daniel-san as to the value of what the young apprentice has just been practicing. Suddenly Daniel-san understands the value of basic training and fundamentals!
Think about building a house. If we had all four walls already measured out and put together and we rested one wall against the other securing each in place we could make other people think that our house was secure. Until that first strong wind came! Suddenly the house is blown down and nothing is left. What do we do? We leave and move somewhere else and try to rebuild. This whole scenario is much like the Karate student who neglects basics and thinks they know it all. They stay with one club for a while and then they move on to another club.
So what should we have done with our house? First of all it is essential to lay the foundations. Then we build the walls, we add the roof, then we paint it, furnish it, make the outside look good and then live in it. Sometimes we live in our house before any of the inside and outside cosmetics are done!
In the same way our Karate practice must begin with basics. With basics we lay the foundations of our practice. By consistent practice and hard effort we add the roof so that we have a more sturdy structure for our house (our Karate). Then we paint the house and furnish it (we make our Karate look good). Then we make the outside of the house look good (we further polish our Karate and iron out the inevitable kinks).
And finally we live in our house and begin to appreciate its beauty and its value to our lives (now we are able to enjoy and apply our knowledge that we have gained through our training).
Hopefully we live in our house for a long time and we gradually feel more and more “at home” and more and more comfortable with our surroundings (now we are beginning to have a deeper understanding of Karate and its application to our lives). I hope that you live in your house for many years to come, or if you move, I hope that you appreciate the time and effort it takes to build a house. Building your Karate is just the same! It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make it strong!