There are no shortcuts

Dalai Lama no short cuts
His holiness the Dalai Lama

A lot of people are asking me to tell them the quickest way to enlightenment, and what they really want to know is what is the cheapest way!

Dalai Lama
Shambhala Sun, November 2006

I teach a very small group of students, about five or so. This is virtually identical to how I trained in Japan. From time to time I get phone calls or people dropping by unannounced inquiring about training. Few ever make it on to the actual dojo floor and even fewer last more than a month for those who manage to get on the floor.

During this whole ordeal, I am subjected to a plethora of different questions, a few of which are insightful, but most of which range from ridiculous all the way to the egotistical. Probably the students with some background in ‘Kurodee’ are the most amusing. Most of them have to do with comparing how “their dojo” trains versus what they are watching, whether “we” do free-fighting, or if “he” can keep his rank.

Perhaps my favorite experience was a person who came to watch practice and then proceeded to explain to me for several minutes about his training in multiple systems. After a long litany of styles and systems being rattled off – and I mean long – I summed up his description this way, …so what you’re telling me is that you’ve never had the patience or discipline to train for any real length of time. I don’t think this dojo is for you. Maybe my response was harsh, but it was honest and needed to be said.

I understand that students will use their previous training as a basis of comparison, but really such comparisons cheapen karate. When I hear such questions from new or experienced students, I think of the quote by the Dalai Lama at the beginning of this blog. Everyone wants results in their training, but just like anything in life are they willing to put in the effort? Or do they want things as cheaply as possible (i.e. with the minimum amount of personal effort)? Only the individual can decide that for himself if it is worth making the commitment, but if you think that training in Karate-do means hopping from style to style and dojo to dojo every year then please don’t bother because there are no shortcuts.