Inside the Thoughts of the Best Karate Student, and how you can think the same way Today!

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Inside the Thoughts of the Best Karate Student, and how you can think the same way Today!

You don’t have to be on the dojo floor long before you figure out who the leaders in the class are.  Maybe you can see them out of the corner of your eye during punching drills.  They are getting their punches out faster and stronger with an effortless look on their face (and maybe a dramatic single bead of sweat rolling off their forehead?).  

Then maybe the class transitions to combination drills across the floor.  There they are again, leading the way and making everyone else seem like a beginner.  They are a student just like you, but they seem to be playing Chess while you are still stuck on Checkers.

Next your Sensei tells everyone to find a partner for a sparring drill and you come face to face with “The Perfectionist”.  You get ready for certain death and just hope that it comes quickly and all of your affairs are in order.  Let the punishment begin.

After a few moments you realize that you are still breathing and your partner stops you to give you some friendly suggestions and gentle instruction.  As you start practicing again, you seem to be a little bit better.  You can tell that your partner is going easy on you, but still your confidence has risen.  It seems that you have made some improvement and you are looking forward to your next chance to work on this drill and continue to improve.  The Perfectionist helped you progress in your training instead of using you as a punching bag.

Personally a big moment in my professional career (pre-dojo owner) came when I realized that I didn’t need to be “in charge” to be a leader.  I was shooting for a promotion and came up a little short.  But I noticed that my peers were seeking out my advice on things, running ideas by me, and asking for instruction on other things.  I wasn’t in the exact job that I wanted to be in, but I was still able to offer the same leadership benefits to others that I was hoping to provide as the supervisor.  I had already gained their respect and continued to be helpful even though I wasn’t the boss.  (Side note: I did eventually get that promotion.  I believe the saying starts “the grass is always greener….)

Can you be a leader on the dojo floor?  Well first let's take a look at what you DON’T have to be in order to be a leader:

  • The biggest

  • The strongest

  • The fastest

  • The most experienced

  • The best looking (thank goodness!)

Can you offer a beginner a tip you wish someone gave you when you started?  Can you make someone experience some improvement during a drill instead of fear and failure?  Can you do something that makes a student want to come back to the NEXT class instead of letting them feel like they should quit?  Then I would argue that you can be a leader in your class and have the respect of your peers.

Look for opportunities to be a leader and you will watch your own training reach higher levels faster than you planned.

Thank you for listening.  Train hard and with intent.

-john g

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