Thought Starters

How can the Martial Arts help us with our career path?

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat,
but in the perfection of the character of its participants”
Gichin Funakoshi Sensei

There’s something you probably don’t know about me.

I used to dabble in the martial arts.

Between 1996 and 2005 I was very active with a studio called NKS which is, in my opinion, one of the best Martial Arts school in Ontario.

I have been to a few in my day.

The team at NKS taught me the way of Shotokan Karate and I fell into it all the way.

I even bought the books……

The great thing was that I forged some fantastic relationships while I was with the school. It was my home away from home and I wouldn’t have given that up for anything. I have fond memories of that time in my life and am honored to have been part of that community.

It took me 4 years of classes (most times 3 and on occasion 5 times a week) plus endless hours volunteering around the school and in order to graduate to my first black belt I was committed to writing a 1,500 word paper on how the martial arts influenced my life. Now 1,500 words is nothing but back then the longest thing I wrote was a grocery list.

Another 3 years and countless bruises came and went before I was able to progress to my 2nd Dan.

If you have ever met me you will know that I am taller than the average guy and because of that not a great physical candidate for this sport but I didn’t care. It developed for me, at the time, as a way of life.

First the body, then the mind and finally the spirit.

It has been 7 years since I stepped into a dojo.

My physical ailments, proximity to the studio and my career were the excuses that lead to my eventual decline in training and over time I stopped completely but the precepts I studied (there are 20 in all) still influence who I am today. It’s not that the martial arts changed me more that the martial arts simply aligned with an attitude that has always been part of me.

And that is the beauty of studying the martial arts.

I learned to accept life as it comes and I have no regrets.

What does it take to get to the black belt level?

Training.

What else?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are just words.

But they convey a mindset toward learning. The martial arts are centered in lifelong learning whether you practice consistently or not. The principles that are taught behind the study of the art is what stays with you.

For life.

There is no end only the eventual parallel of an asymptote.

What does it take to build your career?

Do the same words apply?

 

Over to you: What are your words?

 

About this Author: Ralph Dopping (197 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday: www.designdialog.ca


36 comments
BetsyKCross
BetsyKCross

Commitment. Without it I crumble and walk away at the first taste of difficulty or discomfort. 

bdorman264
bdorman264

Good tenets to follow indeed; applicable both in sport and life. 

 

I'm sure the dedication and commitment made it something that carried you far in many endeavors and glad it was something you accomplished. 

 

Kung Fu grip indeed.

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

I find in the marketing realm a shocking lack of humility. But maybe that's just in certain environments: Large agencies, large clients.

 

Vidya Sury
Vidya Sury

My son went to karate class for three years before he quit - couldn't bring himself to spar with anyone and let's admit it - those nunchuckus hurt! They had a pretty tough sensei - and since I used to hang around the class sometimes, I remember he always said that the purpose is not self-defense as most of the kids assumed (as @SarahArrow says - they assumed it just helped them fight better with their peers) - the purpose was discipline through humility, good posture, self-confidence, protecting others and only finally, protecting self.

 

The words you put up there make a good bouquet to cultivate and carry to build a career.  For different people, in a different order maybe, regardless of what sort of job and status they're in. Most of those qualities help become a good human being that others love.

 

Loved the post, Ralph! Hugs!

SarahArrow
SarahArrow

Hi Ralph, my daughters do Ju-Jitsu and at the moment the only benefit I'm seeing is a better class of sibling fight ;) (they are 7 and 8 and have been practicing for 3 years). Their Sensei has explained to them that academic achievements are not enough to get a job these days (if they ever were) and by working and attaining a black belt they demonstrate discipline, stamina, courage and other things an employer needs.

 

A Sensei is one one of the most patient teachers you can find, and one that inspires his/her students deeply. Martial arts isn't about fighting and defending, it's about other things too, and that's why my daughters attend regular classes.

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Jens-Petter Berget
Jens-Petter Berget

I love to watch martial arts movies, but I have never tried martial arts myself. I've always wanted to, especially when I was a kid. I remember talking to a friend, when I was a teenager, and I thought martial arts was all about the fighting. He told me a story similar to what you're saying, and I just couldn't believe what he was saying. My question to him was WHY? I don't remember his answer, but since I've been wrestling a few years when I was a kid, I just couldn't understand why martial artis wasn't just all about the "fighting". 

 

I believe that the same words apply to business, and especially when you're starting a new business (like I am doing). Patience, focus and confidence is something I think about every single day.

Martina McGowan
Martina McGowan

Agreed Ralph, no one is calm all the time. But our underlying goals and attitudes make all the difference in the world. Martial arts helps with perspective. I am a 1st deg BB in TKD. I did it at an "advanced age" compared to many of the other students. That mental toughness was key when I needed to spar with people who were much younger, stronger and more agile. And you are right. I could not win every bout, but I could hang with the best. It is the same type of stamina when you decide to pursue your goals.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

When my son was younger I made a point to get him into martial arts so that he would gain self confidence, discipline and learn how to do something that didn't require a ball, field or team to practice.

 

The words you listed are important and easily applied to our careers/lives. It is always a marathon.

Martina McGowan
Martina McGowan

Important points Ralph. They may be only words, but the discipline to make it into a skill is what pulls it all together. It is a mindset that needs to be refreshed an re- sharpened often. Martial atrs also helps with learning how to focus and seek your calm center. Love the metaphor for business as well. I

KDillabough
KDillabough

Those words are very apt, and you know you had me when you started talking athletics, discipline, training, mind-body-spirit. Attitude and mindset are key for me, as is ACTION. Cheers! Kaarina

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

You are right, I didn't know that about you, but I love it! I have had many interests in my life, but as of now, martial arts has not been one of them. I was into fencing for a bit, but that isn't really the same thing. If I were to guess, I'd imagine that one day I will give one of the martial arts a try, because it would be a fun way to exercise.

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Erin F.
Erin F.

I trained in Japanese jujitsu, and it was an all-encompassing form - from swords and knives to sparring and grappling and throws. My sensei (It was a traditional school in that sense.) always, always made sure we knew how each technique would play out in a real-world situation and how it translated from standing to ground fighting. I gained a lot of confidence from that training. I also gained an evil twin, but that's another story...

Caitlin Kelly
Caitlin Kelly

Great post!

 

I think there's a false dichotomy between the jocks and the intellectuals, the artsy crowd and the muscled. Not true! I was a nationally ranked saber fencer from 1990 to 1994, having taken it up in my mid-30s. I studied with a two-time Olympian and learned as much about myself and how to conduct myself in the most ferocious competition (hello, NYC/journalism/3 recessions!). I learned to be still, to watch others carefully for my opening, to scare them to death by not moving until I was ready, to attack quickly and without hesitation, to anticipate reaction and prepare for it. To fight when wounded (literally, some of those hits hurt like hell) and stay focused and calm. Every single one of these lessons has helped my career, esp. as a woman in a man's world. I wish more people had the dedication you (and I) had, and publicly proclaimed it. I'll link to this as you've inspired me to do a similar post...

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Solid analogy, mate. Funnily enough, I studied at a school in the UK called NSTK, which stood for National Sports and Traditional Karate. It was a blend of street-fighting and less rigid discipline, as well as traditional Japanese karate and katas. And it changed my life completely.

 

I've definitely taken the mindsets I learned there into both my business and personal life since, and the patience, honour, ethics and support karate taught me I'd like to think I use every day. Or, at least, mostly.

 

Thanks, sir! 

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Ha, ha!  @BetsyKCross I love that! You get the prize for the shortest answer. I hear you though. If I can't commit to something or someone then what's the point? At that point it's just empty promises. It's also a great gauge for your true feelings about what you do and how you work doncha think?

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Thanks @bdorman264 Glad to see you back. I still have to make my way back over to your house to comment on Erin's post. Yep, that kung fu grip has come in handy more than once since. Cheers Bill.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Lori  Lori. I love the fact that you came by. I really appreciate it. Your words are great! Each means something to me too and align well to the words I have chosen. Cheers!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @barrettrossie Large agencies. Large clients. Large egos. It's the same in large architectural firms. Martial Arts allows you to navigate the ego driven corporate world with confidence. I just break a few heads and no one crosses me ever again. In reality, it does help for the exact reason of exuding confidence. I don't always have to be perceived to be right.

 

Precept 12: Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.

 

I can do this all day long.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Vidya Sury  @SarahArrow Thank you Vidya. You have always been a solid friend in this space. The words make up a bouquet. Great line. Cheers, ma'am.

 

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Hey  @SarahArrow  welcome to theviewfromhere. Glad that you could make it. Awesome! You know, a sensei has one of the hardest jobs and like a parent (I am not either) have to provide guidance and direction and hope the choices their students/children take is the right one for them.

 

Teaching kids that the martial arts offers discipline, courage and stamina that can be applied to real life makes for a great teacher. You found a good one at that. Good luck with your little warriors.

 

Thanks you very much for dropping by. Cheers!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Jens-Petter Berget Hey Jens, I am glad you got something out of the post and your approach to your business. The great thing that martial arts can teach kids is about being ok with who they are and building confidence through self-improvement. The fighting part is the fun in the sport but it can also teach you to be humble. No matter how good you think you are someone will always kick your ass.

 

Cheers! It's good to think about those things everyday.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @timbo1973 Thanks Ti. You are first one to offer words. Huh. Great words too!

 

I would endorse either sport but if you think you might have an Olympian on your hands Judo might be the obvious choice. Then again, you might ask him which he prefers. Bet it's Karate. Thanks for your thoughts Tim. Cheers.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Martina McGowan Yeah, I was considered a "mature" student as well. There's nothing like getting your butt kicked by a 15yr old kid. Gives you perspective. Cheers, Martina.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Josh/ http://joshuawilner.com/ Hey Josh! There's a couple of great points here.

 

Martial tests no one but you. In this case the team is your resolve, you and what you are willing to give. It changes you as an individual because it makes you think like one. Just like a marathon which is what life is really about it teaches you to take things slowly and that learning to get better is a lifelong pursuit.

 

Thanks for your thoughts here. Cheers!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Martina McGowan Martina, thank you very much for visiting. Did the comment system cut you off?

You point's are great. You can't let it cool but what's more important to me is the mentality that the art brings to the forefront which is learning is a lifelong opportunity. If you let it in.

 

Maintaining a calm centre is a big challenge in daily life as we all know. I have yet to meet someone who is cool ALL THE TIME. One of the precepts I really love is: Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.

 

It just changes the way I think about a difficult situation. 

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @KDillabough Agreed. Action is the only way for you to know that you can achieve what is in your mind's eye. 

 

Precept 11: Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.

 

Kinda sums it up, right?

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Hey  @ExtremelyAvg  you might read @Caitlin Kelly comment below. I would beg to differ that fencing is less dissimilar to Karate than you may think. Exercise is an excellent outcome of studying the martial arts. You don't notice it but over time changes to your body as usually for the better (except the incessant bruising).

 

I expect a full report when you give it a go. :-)

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Erin F. I want to know the evil twin story! Maybe there's a blog post in there somewhere?

 

It's great when you get practical application techniques alongside the training. NKS taught th traditional kata but what made the experience really worthwhile was the application in a real world setting that they applied to each movement. Invaluable.

 

We also trained for 9 months with the Muchado family from Brazil. Brazilian Jujitsu was one of my favourite diversions from Shotokan because it was so different than the upright form. I suppose that's where "ground and pound" evolved from. Sad but true.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Caitlin Kelly Caitlin, you have made my day. No wait, my month!

 

Your story is an example of the exact reason why I posted  this. The people I know who have had this type of training are different in sometimes the most subtle ways. Martial arts training builds confidence and it is that confidence that allows you to be humble.

 

The first precept of Shotokan: There is no first strike in Karate.

 

That really says it all.

 

I will be looking out for your post.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Danny Brown You know, it's been so long since I have done any of this I would hardly be able to remember any kata. I would think that it would come back quickly if I was in a "situation" that warranted some of those skills. That's the beauty of it. Any kid that has self-confidence issues can get a whole lot out of the principles behind the art as long as they are not too inundated with commercial MMA.

 

Cheers Danny!

BetsyKCross
BetsyKCross

 @rdopping LOL! Lame, huh? I thought the same thing to myself! So sorry. I don't think well on 3 hrs. sleep. You did remind me of the hours and days I spent in the dance studio. It was because of that experience that I know what hard work looks like and feels like. It's not pretty all the time, but we always have something that feeds our soul or we wouldn't keep going back for more. If I didn't feel the Divine-like I'd actually connected my soul to something bigger I never would have gutted it out. Just a few of those magical moments sprinkled in the midst of blood, sweat, and tears nourished me..

Erin F.
Erin F.

 @rdopping Her name is Sarah. I don't know if there's a blog post in there somewhere, but the story is funny. My friend Jason wishes her and me a happy birthday every year. Actually, he named her. He says I would get an "I'm going to take you out" look whenever I grappled, probably because I aimed to take him out. :)

 

Our grappling was submission grappling, so no pounding. Only breaking or choking. Brazilian jujitsu is an offshoot of the Japanese. 

Caitlin Kelly
Caitlin Kelly

 @rdopping Thanks! I was just out at the gym (I'm in Minneapolis to give a speech) and watched some guys playing basketball. You learn a lot really quickly watching someone in the middle of their sport. I hadn't really connected the confidence issue, but so true. Ever since my fencing days (which I hope to resume) not much scares me, on or off the strip.

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