October 3, 2009
I happened to find my old membership card from Kyokushin Karate. I noticed the date it was issued; October 3, 1986, exactly 23 years ago. What a long strange trip it's been.
Moshe Katz , membership card, dated October 3, 1986
Today I tested and promoted one of my students to brown belt, for him today is also a new beginning, another leg of the journey.
But it is always new. At least, that is how it should be, it should always be new.
We have this idea that techniques should actually work for you in real life situations. As such we are always innovating, changing, growing, challenging ourselves. What we knew yesterday, what we mastered yesterday, may not be relevant today. What we were tested on for our black belts yesterday may not be useful today.
We have a saying, "All beginnings are difficult", so some people prefer to avoid new beginnings. Just keep doing the same thing again and again, do what you are good at and you will never have this awkward, uncomfortable, experience of facing a new, and thus challenging, beginning.
Every time I learn a new technique I am a student again. We are students most of the time, teachers some of the time. We must always maintain this student attitude; we are here to learn. Thus, by definition, we are always facing new situations. And new situations are humbling: We are no longer the master, we are once again the student. This humbling experience is essential for being a good teacher, and for being able to protect yourself.
I look at my old membership card and many emotions and memories surface: the excitement of beginning my karate training, the hesitation of entering a dojo full of better trained people than myself, the determination to work hard and earn respect; that of my fellow students, teachers, and myself.
I look at the card and I realize little has changed; I still have al those feelings. The body is older, I have more ranks, but the spirit remains the same. And I realize there will always be new beginnings and I must embrace them with the same enthusiasm and determination with which I began my karate training so many years ago.
I stand in front of a class and I see children. Some of them are afraid to try a new technique. They are afraid they will be laughed at, they are afraid of failure. I can feel their feelings because I have been there myself, I can feel their feelings because I am still there.
I stand in front of a group of police officers, black belts and martial arts school owners. I respect them because instead of saying, "I know it all", they are saying, "I am here to learn something new, I am here to embrace that which I do not know yet. I am here for a new beginning."
I look at my old membership card and see a younger face, but the spirit is the same. The spirit of the old dojo is within me, the spirit of facing new challenges with my Krav Maga training is within me, the search for excellence and the desire to spread this knowledge moves me forward. May we always have new beginnings; For without that we would be at a dead end.
New beginnings keep us young.