Articles

I'll be back.

Good intentions.

More than any other time of the year, it usually happens in the summer. School is out, the days are longer, the beach, parks, and the obligatory family vacation all beckon. Each one calling loudly to students, with the promise of fun under the warm summer sun. It is inevitable therefore that during these warm, and pleasant days, the dojo will often echo with the sound of fewer feet.

Often those who are departing say that this is only a temporary. On their way out the door in search of adventure it is not uncommon for some to do so pledging, "I'll be back". Now for those students above the rank of Sho Dan I think it is safe to say that a week or two away from the dojo will not make a great deal of difference to their fitness level, or to the quality of their techniques. This is primarily because students at this level will usually have eight to ten years of dedicated training behind them. For them it is just a case of being able to switch off, and then switch on again after their vacation. But what about everyone else?

Students below the rank of Sho Dan often find that their stances are higher, their timing will be off a bit, and their blocks not quite as crisp as they use to be. As for kata it is not uncommon even for brown belts, who thought they "knew" all of their kata, to discover they have forgotten one or two moves. All of this is not unusual. Since any significant time away in a relaxing setting tends to diminish both our mental memory, as well as our body memory.

Fortunately for most students the remedy is very simple. It is getting back to into the dojo as soon as possible. There hours of hard work, countless repetitions, a large dose of self-determination will soon make up for lost time. There is an old saying, "time and tide wait for no one". In terms of karate I would suggest, "that a missed class can never be made up". Yes, you can always go to a class on a Friday, to make up for the one you missed on Wednesday, but in truth the class you missed can never truly be regained.

So, by all means listen to the song that Summer sings in the hope of luring you to away. Just know that you may come back a few paces behind those students who remained to polish the dojo floor with their feet, and their sweat. Master Gichin Funakoshi once said that karate was like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly it will soon start to cool. So when you do return to the dojo, be ready to turn up the heat.

Remember: "In order to start where you left off, you must first get back to where you use to be."