Tag Archives: karate for business

“…I expect my students to fail.” – Pennell Sensei

Failure.  It’s a part of life.  Athletes fail in spectacular fashion.  And quite often their failure is shared with hundreds, if not thousands of spectators.  Sure – it hurts.  The humiliation of it all; exposing one’s self to the bitter reality of failure.  It can affect your career.  It can affect your personal relationships and indeed, it can have an effect on your perception of the world – sometimes, in a negative way.

No one wants to be hurt – obviously.  However, I think (and perhaps many of you have had the same thought) that failure really does build character.  Sure – perhaps we’ve all heard our grandparents talk about this mystical quality of failure.  “When you fall down, brush yourself off and get back up again!”  Now, Call your grandparents old fashioned, but I think they have grown to appreciate the lessons learned from failure.  Maybe they have seen the long-term effects of failure and have grown to appreciate how it can mold an individual.

Not to jump all over the ‘helicopter parent’ or anything – but I’ve seen first hand how fear of failure – or more specifically, fear of our children’s failure, has caused many parents to turn into overbearing watchdogs who are quick to fight their kid’s fight on their behalf.  I get it, you love your kid.  I appreciate and respect the love you have for your children.  But perhaps – in the right circumstances, a taste of tough love is appropriate.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “what the heck does this have to do with Karate?”  Well, a lot actually.  I feel like in the last 20-25 years what could once be considered a healthy supply of traditional karate dojos have turned into these hyper-safe playpens that cater to the constant worry and interference of all!

The ‘helicopter parent’, I see it all the time: Parents who try to tell Karate teachers when their kid is ready to grade.  Teachers who only test a student, “when they are ready”, parents who berate instructors who discipline their child – the list goes on.  Now, am I saying that the institution of Karate should be immune to discipline when teachers get out of line?  No – that would be silly.  If a Karate instructor crosses the line, he/she must answer for it.  But, for a moment, try to be bi-partisan and listen to what I’m trying to say.  Karate teaches us valuable lessons.  It’s meant to build character, teach focus, etc., etc., etc.  However in today’s world where many live under the “fear of liability”, where at any moment a wayward parent is “always right” when they stomp their feet and throw their own temper tantrum – it can be very difficult to teach the life skills that Karate can offer.

“In my Dojo, students are not immune to failure.  I expect my students to fail.”

More importantly however, I expect them to learn and grow from the experience.  I expect them to learn from it the same way I do.  Failure builds character.  Period.  Only when we subject ourselves to the possibly of failure, can we hope to learn from it.

Life is not always going to be a cake walk.  It seems silly to say it – you’re probably thinking, “ahh – duh! Of course it’s not.”  Well our kids need to learn to experience failure without being molded into believing that mom and dad are always going to be there to save them.  Because whether parents are ready to believe it or not – their child is going to face difficult decisions in their life and you’re not always going to be around to tell them what to do – so the sooner they can forge a strong character, the sooner they will be able to deal with all the curve balls that life will throw at them.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.

Happy Training

Pennell Sensei.

Top 5 Okinawan Weapons Part II: Tonfa. Umm – butter…

Okinawa's deadliest weapons, Part II.

Tonfa: sticks of death. But can they also churn butter? Yup, that's what I said. You see, a lot of people believe that the Tonfa were originally used on top of butter or cream churning bowls to… well, to churn butter. Is it true? No one really knows for sure. Okay, lets just assume for a second that they were indeed used to churn. What genius of a Japanese man discovered that they were just as useful for busting skulls? That my friend, is the million dollar question. I of course don't know for sure, but I'll take a stab at the answer.

It's somewhere around the 17th century in Okinawa, Japan. My man Yoshi works down at the local butter churnering shop. He's a good employee. Doesn't cause any trouble. Lets even assume that he was awarded employee of the month in the previous month, because he was able to churn that butter out like nobody's business. So what's so special about Yoshi anyways? Well it's a little know fact that he's a Shorin-Ryu Karate master! Of course he's a humble guy – so he keeps to himself the fact that he can pretty much kick serious ass. And besides, who needs to draw that kind of attention to themselves anyways? When you've got crazies like Miyamoto Musashi running around, challenging anybody and everybody to a “duel”. Oh, and by “duel”, what they really mean is bludgeoning a man to death with a modified boat oar. Don't believe me? Read about it here: How to kill a man with a paddle.

I digress – Yoshi just finished a long day at work. He's sweeping the floor and getting ready to leave, when suddenly two men enter the shop. Apparently they're a little 'put out' by the fact that last weeks shipment of butter arrived a couple days late and heaven forbid the shogun's weekly dinner party be inconvenienced by the negligence of a butter making peasant, right? Some people are so un-reasonable. I mean, the butter would probably have arrived on time — if it was ever paid for. It's tough to maintain a proper delivery schedule when Yoshi's boss has to work part time as a bar-back at the local geisha establishment because the shogun regularly skips out on his bill . Oddly enough, Yoshi often bumps into his holiness, while he's working dish slinging for minimum wage. He's usually dropping mad cash on saki.. .money that would probably be better spent paying past-due butter invoices. I'm just sayin.

Anywhoo, after a heated exchange of dialog, consisting of many statements like, “…gonna kick your ass” and “…you like being able to walk, don't ya?”, Yoshi decides he's had enough of these two “businessmen”. Yoshi apologetically excuses himself while he goes to “get the money” and searches frantically for something to use to beat these two dudes into bloody submission. After scouring the back room, he discovers that he's fresh out of anything obviously useful so in an act of desperation, he manages to crudely detach a couple of butter turning handles – read tonfa. Just in the nick of time too, because the two visitors decided to take it upon themselves to make sure Yoshi didn't hit the highroad and give them the slip. Upon busting into the back room, Yoshi suddenly discovered that he two very deadly pieces of wood in his hands. At first he thought that they should have been called boom sticks, but apparently someone in China had already taken that name after inventing something called gunpowder… apparently it's able to fire small lead balls through the air.. sounds like witchcraft to me… probably just a rumour. No other name made itself readily available, so Yoshi settled on Tonfa.

Today, the Tonfa is used worldwide in remembrance of those who kicked ass in the name of skillfully crafted food spreads. Personally, it's one of my favourite weapons. If it were socially acceptable, I'd dress myself fully in velvet and carry two Tonfa with me at all times.





Executive Martial Arts – Kick Through Your Competition.

Japan – the world’s 4th largest economy.  Canada? 13th.  If you’re an Executive Officer living in Canada’s economic hub, Toronto – then you probably want at least one of (if not both) of the following things: 1.) Your company to compete more efficiently in the global marketplace. 2.) Your executive team to be better negotiators and decision makers.  So with a healthy population of educated, intelligent and savvy workers, why isn’t Canada a larger player in the global market?  Well – most large companies might try to blame this economic factor, or that economic factor but maybe your employees are not meshing well – not reaching their full potential.  If you want to make a change, you’ve got to take responsibility for the problem, weed through all the excuses and get to the root of the issue. The opening line in this blog – about Japan – well, that’s a pretty important fact to consider.  Did you know that many of the leading CEO’s and executives within the Japanese business environment train in martial arts?  Yes – it’s true.  And not only as a matter of national pride.  Training in martial arts – like Karate for example, is a proven way to help build camaraderie between members (read:  your employees.)  Not only can it help to develop professional relations between those who work for you, but Karate training is proven to develop inner focus, confidence (which you need immensely to be a successful business person), and metal awareness.  Karate can literally change your life – if you’re willing to put in the hard work.  Of course, anything worth pursuing is difficult…that’s the point, right?  You ask any people manager if he/she would appreciate employees who were more confident in their abilities, more focused on the task at hand (say a large sales pitch), or more decisive and I bet they would say, ‘YES!’

Unlock the immense potential of your employees – enrol them in Karate!  You’ll be doing yourself a favour.