Black Belt Diligence

I remember reading about Howard Collins and Steve Arneil of Kyokushinkai Karate fame in the seventies. Their application and dedication to their art inspired an entire generation of martial artists. They both sacrificed everything in pursuit of attaining the conditioning to undertake the grueling 100 man Kumite.

Howard Collins oldAn extreme test of physical and psychological endurance sparring 100 opponents. Years of rigorous training attempting to push through exhaustion, discomfort, and elements of fear. Way beyond accepted norms of diligence.

Simple uniforms, and sparring with their bare hands and feet.

Masutatsu OyamaTheir  founder was Korean Choi Yeong –eui, who took the Japanese name of Masutatsu Oyama. He did this 100 man Kumite, three times, in three consecutive days. Diligence in spades.

I think it was Bob Geldof that said one of the hardest things to be is totally honest with yourself. Honesty and Persistent Application to any undertaking defines Diligence and rank as the most required “must haves” in the psyche of the martial artist.

I was fortunate to grow up in a generation of martial artists where you just repeatedly worked on fundamental techniques, you sought out sparring partners and you read as much as you could. You respected everything, the Do-Jang, your Dobuk, your Instructors and your seniors. We did not know if the training we did was hard or soft it was just called “Training”.


No remedy in Condemnation

IMG_0015My supportive working class parents thought I was mad working out in our small back yard in our terraced house ‘till all hours, kicking my old post office mail sack stuffed with old clothes. We were inspired by the Bruce Lee phenomenon and focused on training and not on anything else. The training alone was enough, it ticked all the boxes and satisfied all our physical, emotional, mental and perhaps our spiritual needs. Contrast my parents back then in the mid seventies with the parents of that 5 year old kid in Leeds who recently got his Black Belt.

Actually better still, don’t bother.

Seriously, it’s a different time and comparisons like this are futile. Just like condemnation, it is so futile, and takes you a million miles away from diligence.

In the martial arts world of today, the old guard’s dislike of the insidious rise of McDojos is palpable. These belt factories, like falling standards of Black Belt testing have become an easy target for many of my generation to take a few cheap keyboard shots and make comparisons. My advice – don’t. Because whatever we focus on expands… What we resist will only persist and all because we give these things too much energy.

Self pity, and we all do this, but it’s dangerous, is the worst inhibitor of your true happiness and will drain your energy that you could be putting to better use. So is going on and on about falling standards, and what ever else you deem or judge is not right from your viewpoint.

Ten days ago I learned a lesson on behaviour. I took issue with the mention of a Dobuk been used in a relation to a McDojo. No sooner had I pressed my “Send” button I knew my ego had seduced me once again. I let titillation blur my attention to diligence and application. I should have just ignored it, not placed any energy into it and just focused on my own game. You see, if we, the good guys and gals, just up our own game rather than trying to persuade folk to our point of view, we can convince a whole lot more people, faster and better, simply by hard traceable work, good example and producing great students. Not simple, but worth doing, hence the value.


Favourite Martial Artist

Focus instead on your favourite martial artist and I don’t mean a film star. Who do you want to be like, associate with, train with, and be a student of? Seek out what you deem is a good standard of Black Belt who is embracing various disciplines, like groundwork, Boxing, Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Muay Thai, some one who has done just more than their core art or someone who studies BJJ.

It will not be hard to point to such an individual and say, that is a real Black Belt. That is who I admire and that is who I want to be like in one, two or three year’s time.

For example who do you admire? Who is a giver? Who does a lot but never hardly complains. My own original instructor was never “big” in any magazine or on-line, but his trail is glorious for me and the thousands who try our best to follow his application and diligence to making his game that bit separate from the masses. If you’re diving for perils you will eventually find one.

Next, get conscientious about your own training. Do a training weekend in some other style that is not your own. Extend this to your diet, your reading, your students and your community. Then be honest with yourself. I was giving a young guy in London advice recently about running a school. I had some elements of success in a previous life when living in the UK and gave him the best advice I could. He is doing fantastic but this is down mostly to his drive, energy, diligent application and hard work on his part rather than my advice. Get diligence working for you and give yourself an honesty overhaul every few months, its right up there with forgiveness in higher rungs of martial art evolvement.

I promise you when you start applying yourself to this diligent reality “Dormant forces facilities and talents come alive inside you, and you find yourself to be a greater person than you previously thought possible”.  The great Master Pantanji said these words a few centuries ago.

Only diligence will produce a highly evolved intuitive sense. You will care not a jot for anything external to yourself so do not waste a second on trying to accumulate allies, on winning the good opinions of others.

Your Stage Awaits

The internet has given us all a microphone and says; “There you go, say something”.

Today we all have a Stage. We all have the power of creation in our hands. So it’s not who you know anymore it’s who you are. Do something of real value with your time and give yourself that honesty check every few months. Produce your best work now, do your greatest training now, be the best husband, wife, friend, instructor right now.

Instead of shocking folk with silly behaviour, shock them with your discipline, train out of your skin, be a better timekeeper, watch your palate and quantity and quality of food intake. Try and stretch your education that bit each day and keep any judgement with keyboard condemnation in check.

IMG_7480In the end, your training will define you. Forget trying to win favours, just work harder on yourself, go and do the things that others will not do, be very proactive. Keep your focus on who you need to be, get your momentum going, make your work, your standard, your Karate, your Taekwondo and any stage will welcome what you have to offer.

We all have 24 hours. If we sleep for 8 hours, it leaves us with 16 hours, which is 960 minutes or if you are a real stats nut 57,600 seconds. Regardless of our nationality, rank, sex, or social status we all get exactly the same amount.

What you do with those 57. 600 seconds each day of your life is up to you. Seize them all, every one. Your choice. Exciting and clear when you look at it like this, is it not?

If I knew the Latin word for “second” I could finish this beautifully, but I guess more learning beckons…

Carpe Diem

Frank Murphy

One Response to Black Belt Diligence

  • Mike Putt says:

    Hi Mr Murphy Sir, a great post, and the one thing I took from it, and it is a similar stance to what both You, I and many other of the older breed say, we need to ensure that our standards are so much higher than these, as you call them Mc Dojo’s, and this goes back to an earlier post of yours, the grading standards must not go down to the level of students, The students must come up to the level of the grading, at the end of the day, Martial arts is a personal thing, do you want to be honest with yourself, or lie to yourself, because you are the only one you are fooling

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