I remember one of the first movies I watched when I moved to Germany in 1992 – “The way of the dragon”
The legendary fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in the Colosseum of Rome.
It is still one of the best Bruce Lee movies which had significantly impacted my personal development.
My father would turn on Kung Fu movies for my entertainment every time he had to go to work.
This strategy would buy him about 1.5h before I realized that know one was at home and started to cry.
Yes, I still remember that.
And yes, you could question this educational method.
But at this time there was no other option.
My parents had a stand at the public market and it was freezing in the winter.
So it was better for me to stay at home rather than freezing in the van.
I just remember that I never watched so many martial art movies.
You can name any Jackie Chan, Jet li, Bruce Lee, Sammo Hug, Donnie Yen movie…I probably watched it.
The start of the journey
At the age of 10, when I came back from school, my father had bought 2 Bruce Lee books, 1 Book about Karate Katas, a Karate outfit and a supply of energy drinks that lasted for a year.
Yes, you could also question the nutritional education of this story and wonder what a 10-year old would do with energy drinks that was made for body builders.
However, thinking back now, it is just funny.
And of course I didn’t drink it all. After a while I just got sick of it…
…20 years later
As you might have guessed, I started to practice Karate by the age of 10.
Looking back today, I realized how much it helped me in my daily life and formed my personality over the years.
I believe that all Martial Arts at the core follow the same philosophy and have the same goal in mind – the pursuit of perfection of your own personality and the strive to become a better version of yourself.
I realized how similar the principles of martial arts are with what we have to deal with on a daily basis.
Everything seems so similar, no matter what you do.
It always boils down to two things: attitude and mindset.
For that reason I wanted to share my experience with you because even if you don’t do any martial arts training, you can still take some out of it and apply it to what you do.
Lesson 1 : Do – The Way
How believing in the journey is the most important part of growth
The first lesson is about the journey. The journey that every student takes when he decides to start practicing martial arts.
The trust in the journey is the most important aspect.
In martial arts the “way” is described as a path that is covered in clouds.
You cannot see far ahead, but you can always look back.
You never know what you will learn next, but you will always remember what you have learned.
The journey is different for each person.
The start (the basics) might be the same for everyone but later the student has to follow his heart and define his own journey.
How can this be applied to life?
At some point you will finish your basic education and walk out into the world. Then it is up to you what you will do with that knowledge.
Because the path in front of you is cloudy, you can choose the easy route and make use of what you have already learned. Or you embrace the more challenging journey and combine your existing knowledge with new learnings.
A lot of people choose the easy route. Resting on what they already know, already possess and never show a sign of risk taking. How many are complaining about their work but don’t do anything about it?
Only a few are brave enough to walk the more challenging path.
These are the people who are grinding for years because they believe that they can achieve something bigger.
Start to think big, believe in the journey and take the path that no one is taking.
Because in the end you can only see your progress and what you’ve achieved when you look back.
Lesson 2 : Keiko – The process of training
How giving up quickly will never lead to success
While Do is the journey, Keiko is the process of walking the path.
There will be different challenges along the way. You might slip and fall but the next time you will try to avoid making the same mistake.
Over the years I saw a lot of people quitting after a couple of months because they got bored.
Sure thing that Karate is not for everyone. If you cannot find meaning in what you do, what’s the point of doing it?
But what actually annoys me most is not that people quit, but more the underlying attitude of giving up quickly.
Because Keiko also means ‘to meditate upon the old’, it requires you to do things over and over again and think about your past mistakes to get better.
Many think they can learn to defend themselves by doing a course for 2 – 3 months. They give up because they have to do one punch thousand times. It’s boring. It’s not enough action.
So they move on to the next without realizing that they will face the same problem.
In life as well as in business this attitude will not get you anywhere.
You cannot always quit once things get harder.
For instance people think coding is to hard to learn but they never put real effort into it. If you put only 1 hour a day to learn something, you can be an expert in 3 years.
And what is 3 years in a lifetime?
Yes, sometimes it is really hard to know when you should move on to the next, but you should always push as far as you can.
Only then you will know that you gave your best and can move forward with a good conscious.
Always remember, after a rough mountain there will be a wonderful valley.
Lesson 3 : Shi – The Master
How finding a great mentor is crucial for the journey
Remember Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid? The old Japanese guy who taught Daniel San the mysterious crane kick?
When Daniel San arrived in California he could have gone to Cobra Kai Dojo and learn from one of the white bad ass Senseis.
But instead he chose the old japanese guy who didn’t teach him how to kill people but how to use is gift for the good.
This movie taught me the importance of choosing a good sensei, from an early age.
In my karate career, I was very fortunate to have had very good Senseis.
One who taught be the importance of a good foundation and basics. And the other one, champion of japan, who taught about internal growth and how to fear less.
Those mentors were not only great teachers but also great friends.
A great master in todays terms is a great leader or mentor.
Someone that you look up to.
Someone who instructs quietly.
Someone who is mostly in a background because he wants to bring out the best in you.
A great mentor will never lay out every single step for you but wants you to figure it out yourself. Only then you will grow and become independent.
In your career you will most likely get a manager but great mentors are harder to find.
Finding a mentor takes time.
A mentor needs to be willing to teach you, as well as you need to be willing to learn from them.
It’s not a one way relationship. So don’t stop looking and just give it some time.
Lesson 4 : Rei – The Etiquette
How respect and trust is the foundation of great relationships
When you enter and leave a dojo a common etiquette suggests that you have to take a bow.
By performing this gesture you show respect to the place of training and also to greet everyone who entered before.
If you leave, you thank the spirit of the place for the lessons you learned and say goodbye to the ones that are left.
This etiquette dates back to the times of the samurais where it was a common understanding donning the sword in the presence of others when entering a place.
It was a sign of peace and also acted as a form of self-protection because samurais could move around and interact with each other without being exposed to danger.
Showing respect to others is not only reserved for the practitioners of martial arts but holds true for everyone in every part of life.
No matter if you talk to family members, friends or business clients, showing deep respect to people will lead to a more meaningful and sustainable relationship that will benefit both sides.
And sometimes this also requires to be brave enough to say NO or tell people what they don’t want to hear.
But in the end it will create more transparency and trust in the long run which is better than being afraid all the time.