A lot can happen in a short space of time.
Im young, 23 and fresh out of university. I obtained my 1st Dan in Shotokan karate about a year and a half ago, and now the sensei in my university club has just left the rest of us in a lurtch, and I am one of the few who can stand up and attempt to teach my club. But that is irrelevant, just background.
No, instead I wanted to share a small portion of my story, and how it has developed my thinking recently with regards to my martial arts and in a wider context, to myself. I developed serious depression, to the point at which i felt the wolrd would be a better place without me, my long term girlfriend of ~5 years was cheating on me again, and had just left me to be with the other man. She was emotionally and sexually abusive, and I eventually broke. Everything that I was became leeched away and I was left a husk, a human shell with nothing remaining within. It's fair to say this was the lowest point of my life (and for anyone going through something similar, it does eventually get better- trust me), I lost the ability to feel any emotion and became akin to a Vulcan from Star Trek. Everything was reduced to a set of logical decisions, whatever was most logical to do and/or say, was. To cut this story short, things got better with time; I wanted to share my thoughts in a positive environment, however understanding of the reasons behind my little epiphany are important too. Whilst I enjoy reading and thinking on the philosophy behind oriental martial arts, it wasnt that that really helped me begin to recover- rather it was the practise of them that saved me.
With that in mind- here is my epiphany, which I shall attempt to describe before that almost "sleeping mind" state/ meditative mind slips and is replaced by my more rational waking/everyday mind.
I might have to start teaching soon, and I was thinking on ways to describe karate, rather than just a lot of people in lines punching and kicking the air. I found myself likening it to a journey on a path or road- as so many have done before me; one where you can see the immediate surroundings, but have no particular destination in mind. More specifically, a journey in Wales, where it is incredibly mountainous. The metaphor being you are driving along, you can see the road directly in front of you, you can see to the top of the mountain on the path you are on, but you cannot see over the summit. The mountain representing a goal on the path- something to aspire and reach towards, to overcome. But once you have, you cannot know where it leads until you have ascended.
The epiphany came when I realised that wasn't a metaphor solely for Karate- nor any martial art in fact. It holds true for life itself. And whilst I had read variations on this many times over, until I came to the conclusion myself, I didnt really understand or appreciate this.
I guess thank you to anyone who read this through and considered what I have just written, and I sincerely hope that it makes sense for someone out there. Depression taught me true introspection, without confliction with ego or false humility. So i'll end this post with one final piece of wisdom I recently stumbled across, an old Confuscian addage that i have come to like,
"It doesnt not matter how slowly you walk along the Path, so long as you never stop".
Thank you for reading.