November 23, 2020, Israel
It was a long time ago, I was young, at the early stages of my martial arts journey which would become a lifetime journey. I was still processing the process, figuring out what was real and what was hype. Eventually I would live in "The Valley", where the "Karate Kid" story takes place. I know the hangouts where the guys meet in the movie, the music, the streets. Some old friends from those days still refer to me as the Karate Kid, makes me laugh to think of myself as being that young.
I go back there once a year, but things have changed for me. The friends I knew have moved on or passed away, only vague memories remain. Certain areas still evoke memories of younger days and time spent with friends who are no longer among us. This Karate Kid has become an older man with many memories.
There is a scene in one of the Karate Kid movies which I cannot recall exactly but the lesson is still with me. Daniel wants to compete again in the tournament, but the wise Mr. Miyagi is opposed. He explains to Daniel San that the first tournament was important, it was not about winning, not at all. It was not about a trophy or glory, no, not even close. It was about Daniel learning to cope with fear, learning to stand up to Bullying. As Mr. Miyagi said before the tournament; win or lose not matter, all that matters is you will earn their respect.
Respect and self-respect are important. The trophy, Miyagi Sensei explains, is only a plastic man on a marble platform, nothing more. Fighting to retain his title, Miyagi explains, is not reason enough to fight. But Daniel wants to fight, he wants to retain his title. Miyagi wisely realizes that ego has penetrated Daniel's thinking, and ego is not a way to make decisions.
Wise decisions require putting the ego on the side. Gamblers have difficultly quitting when they should, their ego keeps them in the game because they want to win, at all cost. Ego is an addiction.
Miyagi Sensei calmly waits for Daniel San to understand. Return to your roots, return to the Bonsai tree, remember to water your plants, remember to groom your plants, wait for the sun to come, be one with nature and let false ego fade away. Miyagi waits. Miyagi has seen much in his life, he has learned the wisdom of patience. He must be patient with Daniel.
Finally the moment comes when Daniel takes the invitation to the tournament and he sets it on fire. As the document goes up in flames and the smoke fills the air student and teacher smile, something magical takes place and this changed my life. Anxiety is gone!!!
Anxiety is caused by confusion, confusion is caused by doubt. People who have Shalom, wholeness, have no doubts, and they are at peace. I have seen great men, rabbis, who could withstand every adversity that life could through at them, they survived Hitler, they survived Stalin, they survived Hell on Earth because they had this one magical tool: no doubt.
No doubt means your life is clear, your path is clear, you know what you want. As Tevye says, each one of us knows who we are and what God expects of us.
Our path is clear, there is no doubt. We are strong because we are clear in our path and no force on earth can defeat this.
Miyagi is wise, as the smoke feels the air student and teacher rejoice, a decision has been made, a path has been chosen and doubt has been defeated, with Doubt gone Clarity and wisdom can appear. The Light shines, both men smile!
Anxiety is a terrible illness and is often caused by physical damage in the brain, for this we need medical help, but there is a common anxiety that afflicts many of us, and this is the result of doubt, confusion, lack of clarity.
Go back to your roots, groom the Bonsai tree which is you. Return to yourself, return to serenity. Shalom, Wholeness, is healing power. Burn the document that represents confusion and doubt, let it go up in smoke and that smoke will clear the air, and purify your soul. Teacher and Student will rejoice and will go on the correct path, when you can see your destination you can achieve it.
Karate Kid, so many valuable lessons for life. So much has changed, so many loved ones are gone, never to return but the light in our hearts must guide us to another day.
Other lessons from the Karate Kid
How times have changed...but have we grown?