Tag Archives: philosophy

Practice Makes Perfect

Thanks Melinda, for that fabulous introduction! And thank you Rayna, Melinda and Kathy for inviting me to blog along with you on Attacking The Page.  I must admit I struggled with what I would post for my first blog until Kathy said, just be yourself and you’ll be fine. So here goes…

The other night, after karate class, I spoke to a fellow student who mentioned that when he performs a Kata, a series of karate moves, before the teachers in our dojo, he’s never frightened. Wow. Admiration for his self-assurance and poise raced through me. I told myself what I’ve found countless times to be true: practice makes perfect. The karate student I spoke to has been studying longer, so naturally, his skills are more advanced.

On my drive home, I considered how dedication and perseverance not only allow me to trust myself as a writer, but push myself in karate training. These qualities are what keep me going. But this was the clincher for me: assurance and poise are the qualities that have helped me find my true writing ‘voice’, and I never realized they’d been in my artillery all along. For me, it was an Oprah, ah ha moment. So I sat back and smiled, knowing that in time, assurance and poise will enter the dojo with me. Until then, I will continue to work hard, and remind myself that everyone learns at their own pace. My Sensei told me, if karate was easy, everyone would be taking class. How true. The same can be said for the publishing world. If writing a good book were an easy task, everyone would be published.

In 2004, I started my writing journey. After publishing a children’s non-fiction book, library sales dropped, so I turned to writing romance and I haven’t looked back. In 2011, I began studying Issinryu Karate, and one year later, I feel empowered and confident. I believe practice does make perfect, and although our journeys are diverse, and may spread over different spans of time, odds are, just like me, you have qualities you aren’t aware of, and your Oprah, ah ha moment, is waiting for you too if you trust in yourself and look deep inside.

Because I’m a vertically challenged woman, on a good day I’m five feet tall, I began karate as a means of self-defense so I would feel safe whenever and wherever life took me. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. One year ago, fear would have riddled me helpless if someone approached me in a dark venue with the intention of hurting me. Now, I’m tenacious and self-assured, and God help the man waiting for me in some dark, parking lot…because I guarantee he’ll be the one running for help, not me.

The Uncarved Block

I’m in a philosophical mood today. The following excerpt comes from the book SIMPLE TAOISM –  A GUIDE TO LIVING IN BALANCE by C. Alexander Simpkins PH.D. and Annellen Simpkins PH.D. Give some thought as to how this relates to your attitude toward your writing, your karate, and your everyday living.  

Imagine for a moment that you are an accomplished woodworker. You look at an uncarved block of wood with a certain affection, knowing that here is uncreated potential. As an uncarved block it can be anything – the possibilities are infinite. No one can name it because it has not yet become something except what it is in its natural, untouched state, much like Tao.

The Taoists believe that we return to a state like the uncarved block of wood, we find Tao.

Human beings are often in a hurry to acquire the finished product, the carving. But once the item is produced the limitless Tao is lost. A carving of an object is only that one thing. It has a name. It has come into existence. Eventually it will become worn, broken or lost, going through its cycle of existence-nonexistence. But the original uncarved block is nameless, beyond definition, quietly open. The sage tries to be like an uncarved block, open to potential without being limited to one definition.            

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.

~K.M Fawcett

The Difference Between Men And Animals

“Do not forget that karate begins and ends with rei.”

This is the first of twenty principles passed down from the father of modern day karate, Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi brought his Okinawan martial art of self-defense to mainland Japan, which contributed to its introduction to the rest of the world.

If you’re wondering what karate has to do with the difference between men and animals, stick with me. You’ll soon understand, Grasshopper.

Rei means respect. Respect for others and respect for ourselves.

We demonstrate this respect in karate class every time we bow…onto the dojo floor, to our sensei (teacher), or to our workout partner. The bow is a sign of esteem, respect and courtesy. The bow signifies our willingness to learn and our appreciation for being taught. It assures our partner of our desire to work together to advance both our training; we are not facing off in combat.

Though anyone can go through the motions and bow when they are supposed to and at all the correct times, if they do not have a sincere heart, they do not possess true rei. As it states in The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi, “True rei is the outward appearance of a respectful heart.”

In this book, Funakoshi guides us in the spiritual aspects of martial arts. Yes, contrary to what most American’s think, karate is much more than striking, punching, and kicking. Karate-do is a way of life. A philosophy. And these philosophies are not only meaningful in martial arts, but in our everyday lives. These principles encourage us to take a deeper look at ourselves, at how we live and how we treat those around us.

By now I’m sure you’ve made the connection between the title and the blog post.  Only man can show respect and courtesy. Funakoshi’s book states, “The difference between men and animals lies in Rei. Combat methods that lack rei are not martial arts but merely contemptible violence. Physical power without rei is no more than brute strength, and for human beings it is without value.

All martial arts begin and end with rei. Unless they are practiced with a feeling of reverence and respect, they are simply forms of violence. For this reason martial arts must maintain rei from beginning to end.”

I believe everything must maintain rei from beginning to end, whether its school, career, religion, relationships or time for fun. If we treated everyone and everything with reverence, respect, and courtesy, the world would be a much nicer and safer place to interact.

Are you living your life with true rei? Do you treat yourself and others with courtesy, esteem and respect? Do your characters? What changes can you make right now to demonstrate the rei in your heart? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

FOR FUN: What Spider-man quote relates this statement from The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi? “The difference between men and animals lies in Rei.”

~K.M. Fawcett