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TRAINING MUST BE DIFFICULT - Sensei Gerrit Zaayman

Shihan Koos Burger often uses an old Japanese proverb stating that "Training karate is like pushing a cart up a hill". This is probably one of the best descriptions of the continuous effort and commitment required for training and improving one's karate. When you initiate the journey of learning and mastering karate you begin at the foot of the hill, where all you can see are the trees, bushes and rocks around you. It is hard to get any perspective of the layout and landscape surrounding you as you are simply unable to perceive them from your current vantage point.
As you commence the journey pushing the cart upward, you slowly start to see more and more as the scenery begins to unfold around you. Travelling upward unveils aspects of the environment that you did not even know was there like rivers, lakes, canyons, etc. The higher you climb, the more perspective you gather as you can see further and further, and more of the landscape becomes visible. However, it takes constant effort to keep pushing the cart up the hill, and if you just slack for a moment the cart will begin to roll back down the hill. When the cart reverses its course and runs downhill it rapidly gains momentum. This makes it increasingly difficult to stop and recover. It is therefore critical to maintain your forward momentum to keep climbing the hill as you will continuously be rewarded with a better vista.
Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa said that "training must always be difficult". He also believed that if the training you are doing is not difficult, you are simply not training hard enough. By continuously training the 'karate landscape' keeps evolving around us. This allows us to learn and understand more and more concepts that we had no knowledge of when we began the journey. Much like a view, it is difficult to describe what the 'landscape' looks like, until you make the decision to make your way high enough up the peak to see and experience it for yourself. This journey has no defined end point, but the higher you climb, the more acutely you become aware of what karate has to offer.
The budo spirit is to endeavor to keep advancing the cart up the hill, diligently increasing your knowledge and understanding, aspiring to truly master the art. The hill, however, grows ever steeper the higher you go, making it more difficult to make progress. Sometimes it feels as if your progress has halted, but every time when you look down you can clearly see that the landscape growing ever larger and more beautiful. It therefore requires constant commitment and dedicated training to maintain the forward momentum. It is easy to slack off once you reach a certain level, or when circumstances in your life changes. If you slack off in your training you run the risk of slipping down the hill again, and this often causes people to give up.
On days and times that you do not feel like training, remind yourself of item three of the Dojo Kun, "Endeavor". Every day that you keep moving forward, even if it is just a very small step, helps you to maintain positive momentum in your journey of learning and improving karate. Keep pushing the cart up the hill, it will always be difficult, but you must endeavor.

Sensei Gerrit Zaayman
 

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