By virtue of you reading this blog article, chances are, you are involved or at least interested in the martial arts of some form or another (karate probably.)
How involved is your interest and/or training? Are you a casual participant at once or twice a week and this endeavour is recreational, or are you more involved and your martial arts training is more intense with more often workouts and you’d consider yourself more of a ‘serious’ student?

Wherever your answer lies, – how do you apply your training in your everyday life? Is it for Sport or is it treated as an Art?  
There is a difference. On starting your chosen martial art, whether it be karate, judo, aikido, boxing or anything else, the start of our training is always so physical – learning steps, moves, techniques (both offensive and defensive), terminology, philosophy, etc., etc.  

Over time as we progress and attain proficiency, the natural high that we experience from our chosen art, feeds a place in our heart that moves us now, in a direction that maybe emphasizes ego and the need for displaying our expertise, whereas, some may be nourished by finding that they are defeating inner conflictive demons, finding solace within an art and realizing the quiet confidence that may permeate their life. I’ll expand.
I believe that if we use our newfound skills within a sport platform to attain personal status via hurting someone in competition or vying for medals and trophies in contests, then we are just an empty vessel holding nothing of true value for ourselves or to those around us. Our medals and trophies soon sit on a shelf collecting dust and then our moments of adulation are long gone – what’s the next fix for ‘ego’?
When we study our chosen interest and embrace the teachings with an open heart really trying to develop skills, over time we find that the relaxed inner confidence and healthy self esteem oozes out to all other areas of our being and thereby to the rest of our lives. We don’t just do our ‘art’, we are now living our ‘art’. These people tend to attend class more often. We become the vessel holding wonderful personal attributes that can only serve to enhance our lives!

Developing that kick or punch and trying our best to be the best we can be just because we like to improve for ourselves spills over into other areas of our lives. We develop an intolerance for mediocrity and form the habit of trying to do well and then do well at much of what we do. Good!
Living our art helps us in so many ways and as a result, we are naturally on a ‘high’ without need of peer adulation or a need to feed that ego by attention grabbing activities.
Sport is healthy, no doubt, but all too often the tenets of sport (camaraderie, fair play, fun, skills building, etc.) are waylaid and we get caught up in a competitive atmosphere that only serves to break true relationships with ourselves and others – for what? A medal?

How long do we really think we could last treating our interest as just a ‘sport’. Our bodies wear down as we go on, injuries occur, that old buzz we used to get when we ‘won’, has gone.
As an ‘art’, sure we still get injuries, we still age, but now our injuries are dealt with in a way by which we deal with it in a more spiritual way, accepting it and taking it easier only doing what we can do until healed. The mental attitude shifts as we recognize that our art is a lifelong endeavour and our skill sets can be applied to all aspects of our lives – gardening, driving a car, dealing with issues, raising kids, etc., etc. Yes, when we accept the ‘art’ of our training, we become more than we ever could have realized, growing older with so much more substance within AND we have also developed physical skills.  
A question; faced by a situation in which two martial artists (one sport minded, the other trained but with an ‘art’ attitude) are accosted by someone aggressively confrontational.  

How do you think each would deal with the situation and how do you think it would end?
You’ll notice that I haven’t emphasized the lethal aspects of our arts. There’s more than enough material around that does just that, but we’ll talk another time about that aspect.
Yours in the arts,

Gary Christensen – Renshi