I started karate at the age of eight on an extremely cold dojo floor in the North-east of England on a January evening in 1982.
My truth that night was that my feet were freezing cold like blocks of ice; my belief was that karate was extremely hard and unforgiving. I cried after the class and wanted to quit before the next lesson. Despite my initial experience, I stuck with karate.
At the age of 10, I passed my brown belt after failing two previous gradings. My truth that night was that I was a tough young boy; my belief was that I was actually good at karate. I answered my parents doubts that night and was brimming with confidence. Thanks to my newfound confidence, I stuck with karate.
At the age of 14, I passed my first degree black belt after spending four long years as a brown belt, after failing two more gradings, after trying to convince my parents that their money was well spent on my karate training, and after almost giving up on karate altogether. My truth that day was that I was a very stubborn individual who had reached a goal; my belief that day was that karate was in actual fact very difficult and that maybe I should quit now while I was ahead. Instead of quitting, I stuck with karate.
At the age of 22, I graduated from university, left England and went to Japan and enrolled in Master Kanazawa’s Headquarters Dojo in Tokyo. At the time, I was a third degree black belt in my previous style, well-versed in my new style of Shotokan and had experience in Ju-jitsu and Aikido. My truth that month was that I finally had some bona-fide experience on which to build. My belief was that I could actually be successful in karate. Thanks to my fearless decision to move to Japan, I stuck with karate.
At the age of 26, I left Japan as a third-degree black belt in Shotokan, awarded directly by Master Kanazawa. I had spent three hard years in Japan learning the art of karate and experiencing the melting pot of culture shock, intense training sessions, and strange yet rewarding experiences that I will never forget. My truth in that moment was that I didn’t really know who I was, or what I wanted in life; my belief was that it didn’t matter because I could do anything that I put my mind to! Thanks to the inspiration of Master Kanazawa, I stuck with karate.
Over ten years later and many many hours of hard work and a lot of help from family and friends, I am responsible for teaching well over 100 people this art of karate on a weekly basis. As a fifth degree black belt I represent Master Kanazawa’s worldwide organization and do my best to promote his message of harmony and strong spirit through my teaching.
In some people’s eyes I have made it as an instructor. The truth of the matter is that I have a very long way to go before I can even begin to claim some measure of success. My own personal truth at this stage of my karate journey is that I have come a very long way since first stepping out on that freezing cold floor in England, and that my study of karate has revealed many personal weaknesses that I have had to face along the way. The process of trying to correct these weaknesses, both physical and emotional, is never easy but it is necessary if we are to continue growing as a person. My belief at this point in time is that I truly can achieve anything I set my mind to, regardless of how difficult it may seem at first. Thanks to all of my experiences, I still do karate!
My instructor, Master Kanazawa, once said that one of the reasons to practice karate is to learn how to “make the impossible possible”. This simple phrase sums up the difference between truth and belief very well. The truth of our current situation or of a goal that we want to achieve may very well seem impossible, but our belief that we will ultimately be successful is what propels us forward and drives us through the invisible barrier in front of us.
Time and time again in my own life I have come up against very difficult challenges that seemed insurmountable at first. Yet with determination, perseverance and self-belief, the challenge gradually changed from being impossible to being very difficult to finally becoming imminently achievable. I suspect that all of you reading this have had similar experiences throughout your own lives.
So what have all of these different experiences and my karate training taught me. Well, I think that after searching for truth in everything I do, I have finally come to the conclusion that it is not the so-called truth of our situation or challenge that really matters; all that actually matters is our belief and how we handle it!