Friday, January 14, 2011

Weakness of Spirit, Mine

We will train our hearts and bodies for a firm unshaken spirit. 

That is the beginning of the dojo kun. The dojo kun, traditionally in Japan, is recited at the beginning and end of every class. In America, even in my home dojo, we only say it at the end of class, if time allows. One person will recite the dojo kun in parts and the rest of the class will mimic it. I have been listening to it for over a year and a half.

Last Sunday, I went to Sensei Kris's dojo. At the end of a very good class, she said that I was to say the dojo kun. 

Huh? Me, really?

Of course, what I really said was "Osu Sensei!", because in martial arts, you do what you are told without question, especially in class. You must show respect. I had no idea that I was going to choke like I did. 

It was awful. I was embarrassed and humiliated. I struggled to remember the very first line, finally it came to me. "We will train our hearts and bodies  for a firm unshaken spirit." Then I searched my mind for the second line. "We will seek to cultivate", I uttered and was entirely wrong. The entire saying took forever for me to butcher. I butchered it so well too. On the way home, I kept running through the kun and I just couldn't remember it. My mind was completely blank, and I felt tears building up. I held the tears back in class, but they poured out on the way home.

So at home, I post on Facebook "what is the best way to memorize very long passage of text?" I get some really good advice. Sensei comes on and says " Let me try again....Just do it!!! Now I know your weakness I will force you to fix it. Not because I am mean, because I want you to be better" Oh God!!

The next night, at the Norway dojo, was sabaki class (fight). For some reason I thought I would have until her next class before she would make me try again. No such luck. She announced to class that they were to only repeat the kun if I said the correct line. She had Beth help me. It was almost as rough as the previous night, but not quite as bad. Maybe it was because every time we had a break, I would look at the wall where it was written and repeat it in my head. Unfortunately, I cannot see it when we are bowing out.

I have come a long way since I first stepped into the dojo. Once a sad overweight housewife with no aspirations, to a fighter with a business. I have accomplished so much more in the last two years than I had in the previous 20 years.

What happened was the Spirit of Osu. This spirit made me strong in body, which made me strong in mind, until I had to say the dojo kun that is. I felt defeated, weak. I couldn't think when speaking in public and it was a very small public too. I don't know why and the thought of having to say it again is making me not sleep.

What is the Spirit of Osu, you ask? Glad you did. Osu comes from the contraction of the words Oshi Shinobu. It means to persevere while being pushed", implying the willingness to push yourself to the limit of your endurance and maybe a little further than that.

Somehow I have to get past this social anxiety and I have no choice in the matter, or quit kyokushin. Sensei is going to push me until I either break or can do it. Heck, even if I break, she will make me do it. Speaking in front of others is scarier than my first tournament, scarier than my first full contact fight. Weird how that works.

I have been reading and rereading the dojo kun all week. Hopefully I can muddle through it significantly enough this week that she only has me say it once. I know better. She will make me say it every night until I say it correctly. UGH!

We will train our hearts and bodies for a firm unshaken spiritWe will pursue the true meaning of the martial way so that, in time, our senses may be alert. With true vigour, we will seek to cultivate a spirit of self-denial. We will observe the rules of courtesy, respect our superiors, and refrain from violence. We will follow our God and never forget the true virtue of humility. We will look upwards to wisdom and strength, not seeking other desires. All our lives, through the discipline of karate, we will seek to fulfill the true meaning of the Kyokushin way.