In karatedō, we push ourselves hard. A professor once told me, “I’ve learned over the years to be gentle with myself.” Our attitude is different: be gentle with others, take care of others, but be absolutely merciless with yourself.
This culture loves ease. Products are marketed by assurances they require no effort at all or will take the effort out of living. Karatedō is different. Karatedō holds that living demands effort. There was a karate class training in a small basement room. They worked so hard that their sweat made the air heavy. The humidity condensed on the low ceiling and dripped on them as they kept practicing.
We’re not quite there yet, although our uniforms are sodden thirty minutes into a practice and we leave big puddles of sweat on the floor. But we’re working on it. And work is the key. Karate is supposed to be demanding. You’re supposed to go right up to your physical limits and beyond. Our conviction is that no matter how hard you’ve tried, you could always have done one more kick, one more punch, one more push-up. Giving 100% is a myth.
At some point in your life—perhaps a few days from now or perhaps not for many years—you will be faced with particular choice. It could be that someone you love will be really counting on you to come through or it could just be that you will know, in your heart, the right thing to do. Either way, the price will be very high. It may cost you your money, your friends, your job, or your reputation. Maybe even your life. You will have to decide whether to pay that price or take the easy way out. And if you can’t make yourself do one more push-up when your arms ache, or can’t even get yourself out the door for a workout, what makes you think will be able to do that hard thing when your conscience asks you to?