The only road to travel
It has often been said, "there is no substitute for excellence".
But where does excellence come from?
What drives us to create excellence in some things, and not in others?
Is the drive external?
Do we only put out the required effort to be "good", "great", or "excellent", when someone else is motivating us to do so?
Or is the drive internal?
Is excellence a by-product of the forces we exert upon ourselves to do those things that we think are worth while, and to do them at such a level, that others can not help but notice the time, the effort, and the quality, that went into what we have created?
Perhaps excellence needs both.
Perhaps all of our relevant internal forces, and those added external forces, need to come together and work in perfect harmony before excellence can exist in any form.
That can be particularly true as far as karate-do is concerned.
If you have been training karate for any length of time you will undoubtedly be aware that trying to "push yourself" while training alone in an empty dojo takes a tremendous amount of desire, drive, and will power. Yet the results for most of us seldom approach the same level of performance that we are capable of when doing the exact same kihon, kata, or kumite as a member of a large class with a high level of energy running through it.
The simple fact of the matter is that ninety-nine percent of the time our internal motivation alone is not enough for us to achieve our goals. As a result we need, dare I say crave, that external motivation that is the "missing link" in the equation.
We need someone, or something, to help us get to those places we would previously never would have believed possible, and that we alone are not usually capable of reaching.
Fortunately for us when we bring our internal force to the dojo, that external force already exists.
It is there right in front of us.
Our sensei.
We know in advance what he, or she wants.
Nothing less than our best, all of the time.
We also know that at the moment the class is told to "line up" we have lost total control over what we do, when we do it, how we do it, and for how long we will do it. At that moment our "external drive" has already started to kick in, and it always has the same effect. It makes us uneasy, nervous, on edge, after all most of us dislike giving up control, especially over ourselves even for a limited amount of time.
In the end the "why" we feel this way does not matter, because this "nervous energy" also has a positive side effect of sorts.
This "feeling", this "energy" also helps to creates within us the desire to be better than we were in the last class, better than those around us tonight, better than the limitations we so often place on ourselves. And so out of this combination of personal desire, and our sensei's expectations comes, "good", "better", and if we are very lucky that day, "excellent".
But excellence requires effort, and then greater effort.
Heart, and then more heart.
Excellence demands of you that you leave nothing for tomorrow, but instead that you give all that you have to give, right here, and right now, for as long as it takes.
Excellence is unmistakable, it is there for all to see.
Excellence knows no bounds.
But to get you have to give.
Excellence always comes at a price.
So the next time you line up in class ask your self, "what am I prepared to give in order to get all of the knowledge that is going to come my way during this class, what am I prepared to pay"?
My wish for you is that you pay the price.
Good training.
The sum of all things,
is equal to the effort that went into it.
Part the clouds - see the way.
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay