Respect can be a difficult thing to actually describe – if you take a literal interpretation it means to offer an individual, a place, or even a thing, a positive feeling of esteem or deference and then conveying this feeling in certain actions, words, or gestures. But where does it fit in on the mat or maybe, more importantly, in a competition? Does respecting your opponent in a match really provide you – or the other competitor – with anything of worth?
A military general from antiquity might well have pondered that not to show respect to your enemy courts danger and thereby the possibility of defeat…
A clue here?
As a competitor you have some choices on how you regard your opponent. You can purely regard them as an obstacle you have to overcome – this could be called a neutral approach. You can view them with some measure of disdain and try to use this to fuel your performance – this could be termed a negative approach. Or, you could view them as a fellow competitor who has, as you have done, entered the competition to test their skill and try to win – we can call this a positive approach – a respectful approach, if you want.
Can you discern a pattern here?
If you adopt a neutral approach you run the risk of being under aroused – of not really focusing on what the other opponent has to offer in terms of their performance. The neutral approach doesn’t really have a place in top level competition because the competitors will certainly be aware of what the others can do and should have prepared accordingly with some form of match plan that works to their best advantage when competing against a known fighter with a certain set of skills.
The negative approach is the one that rewards you the least. It puts you at a disadvantage to begin with because it stands a much higher chance of pushing you into an over-aroused state of mind and as we should now know (check my last article) this can lead to a drop off in your performance level.
A positive approach may help get you into the zone you need to be in to effectively perform but we are trying to respect our opponent, not be in awe of them, and there is a big difference. You can respect another competitor but also be able to take the fight to them following your strategy and using your game plan, executing the moves you know you can pull off. Having a healthy measure of respect will also guard against you underestimating your opponent, which could lead to an upset. If you view them neutrally or with disdain then you run the risk of underestimating what they bring to the mat. Remember they entered the competition just as you did which means they want to get on the mat and test themselves – the fact they have done this should get some acknowledgement.
If we take a quick look at MMA and boxing, sometimes before a big event the two fighters concerned will begin a ‘trash talking’ dialogue, using media moments to disrespect each other, sometimes using really strong derogatory and inflammatory language. Why do they do this?
Three reasons spring to mind;
1) They genuinely do dislike each other and are using the media to telegraph their mutual dislike.
2) They are trying to gain an advantage by seeking to upset or off-centre their opponent.
3) They are engaging in a mutually agreed ‘hype’ process to stimulate interest and thereby increase monetary profit from the fight.
Or it could be a combination of all three…
Each of the three reasons diminishes the integrity of the fight and ultimately of the fighters themselves. When we talk about or discuss respect in this context we are also talking about integrity. Integrity and respect are closely interlinked with each other. Integrity is a quality of character – you might call integrity the modern version of honour which ultimately means you are a person of your word – if you say you will do something then you will. Someone that freely gives respect to another, based upon their judgment and appraisal, I would argue tends to have a healthy amount of integrity.
Issues in a sporting context of respect and integrity are part of a wider realm of ethics in sport. Fair play and following the rules are important if we as competitors are to retain our integrity, which is a measure of how we regard ourselves and want others to regard us. Winning is important as it’s one of the reasons why anybody enters any type of sporting competition, but should we aim to win at any cost? I would rather win fairly and squarely than by using spurious methods to increase my chances of winning, because if I win or lose fairly I maintain my integrity and that is as important to me as actually winning.
This view is not shared by everybody involved in high stakes sporting competition especially when that competition blurs into business, as we see in professional sport. Other athletes and coaches in other sports view winning as the only goal and will use any method -including those outside of the established rules – to win. Whilst they might win, they ultimately lose their integrity and if found out will lose most, if not all, of the respect and esteem they may have held before.
In one of the recent main UFC events in Japan two fighters failed drugs tests, one reportedly for banned stimulants. These guys are professionals who earn their living from fighting – whether for sport or for gladiatorial competition/entertainment (which is what I would argue the UFC is – I’m not sure I’m comfortable calling it ‘sport’), rules and guidelines to ensure fairness should be respected. When the stakes are high, integrity and mutual respect often get overlooked.
What sort of competitor are you?
One with integrity?
Or one who would win at any cost?
And if you are the latter are you truly comfortable with that?
Being a top competitor does not make you a top instructor.
I realize this is going to step on a lot of people’s toes. There are plenty of examples of top competitors who are also great instructors whom people will defend. But, there are also a lot of top-tier fighters who are absolutely horrible as instructors. People just don’t want to admit it.
The latter ground of instructors will ask, “What do you mean I’m not a good instructor? I’ve been training for nine years and I’ve won thirty different championships. Just look at all of my medals!”
This is exactly my point. You have been training to compete, not to instruct. Sure, you may have gleaned a bit of instructional skill from your instructor, but your main focus has been to compete, not instruct, and these are very different skillsets.
Qualities of a top competitor
The ability to put karate above everything else in their life
Unyielding drive to compete; and to win
Desire to be a perfectionist
Willingness to sacrifice other aspects of life (such as friends, family, and romantic relationships) for competition success
Qualities of a top instructor
Willingness to help their students
Large amount of content knowledge
Interpersonal (communication) skills
Interpersonal (self-reflective) skills
Passion to support others over themselves
Skill sets have little overlap
As you can clearly see, the lists above are very different. If you want to see a great example of this, ask a top student who has never taught before to teach a class some time. They will likely do one of two things: they will teach exactly the same way they were taught, or they will be at a complete loss and utterly fail. This is a great example of how training to “do” and training to “teach others to do” are very different.
“When you’re trying to be a world champion and you have that burning desire and that extreme focus and you’re isolating yourself, I became socially unaware of my surroundings. I wasn’t the most friendly guy. I may have trained too hard with people who weren’t there for the same reason as me, and that was just a product of what I was trying to do.” Jordon Schultz (multiple time world champion at brown and purple belt), lamented the way that he treated his students and training partners at his old academy.
But, what is really cool is that we see fighter start to move away from the single-mindedness of a top competitor and toward the mindset that will likely lead to him being a top instructor in the future. A great teacher has to not only understand what they are teaching, but how to communicate it to others. In Jordon’s case, his instruction suffered because he was not able to effectively communicate with students. Communication isn’t a vital part of being a top competitor in the same way that it is to be a top instructor.
In addition, when technique and ability are outside of your conscious awareness, you may not know how you do what you do. This is a huge barrier that keeps many top competitors from being able to teach what you know to somebody else, especially people who learn kinetically, while other students in the same class may learn visually or verbally.
One of my favorite coaches is József Stefanovics sensei from Hungary. He impressed me as a very dedicated and emotionally connected with fighters on the tatami. His club Victory Martfu have well maintained YouTube channel and here’s some interesting videos from the recent past.
Although the ancient origins of karate are somewhat unclear to us,The one thing I can tell you,is that about 1400 years ago,while teaching at the Shaolin Temple in China,Daruma Daishi used techniques that were similar to karate.Later these techniques developed into forms of karate known as Shaolin Boxing.
You need a clear mind to use Karate and meditating is the best way to clear your mind when you are in a sport such as karate.In 1955 one of master funakoshi’s last direct pupils cam to the United States and was the first person to teach karate in this country.That same year he put together Southern California Karate Association,which has grown over several years to now become a national non-profit organization.
As I meditated I continued to learn more about karate.I learned in 1961,which happens to be my year of birth,Mr Caylor Adkins,One of Mr Ohshima’s first black belts, began attending CSULB and soon formed the school’s first karate club.In 1968 after being gone for a while he returned to CSULB along with a gentleman named Mr Don Depree. Mr Depree carried on the tradition and led the growing club until the year 1992,when he entrusted the leadership of the club to Mr Samir Abboud.
Still keeping my mind clear by meditating I learned that Mr Samir Abboud was a continuing student of Don Depree since the year of 1969.Samir was the CSUBL captain of the karate club,and assistant instructor to Mr Don Depree for many years. Through meditation children and adults learn breathing techniques that help them concentrate on karate. When first starting karate you will want to start with the beginners belt.The purpose of this level is orientation.
Students will be taught the general structure of the class,basic commands,the importance of self-defense and some basic combinations of self-defense moves. By concentration with meditation the student will learn to be familiar with and to perform any of the moves on the curriculum sheet.The students also should be able to stand in a Chunbi position for 1minute without moving.Minimal proficiency will be required.
The practicing time 5-10 minutes 3-4 times a week will be plenty for the beginners level.It will usually take 4-6 weeks to start your next belt. So whether you are a child or and adult learning karate for whatever reason,remember the key to karate is first using your breathing techniques and your meditation will help you to practice your breathing.
Meditation books are also very helpful, if you are interested in learning more about meditation just go to your local library and check some of them out. Take time out to study meditation and you could be feeling much better real soon, which is something that most of us all want for ourselves. Good luck and remember that keeping a positive attitude can really make a difference in your stress levels. Please take time out for yourself for meditation.
Improve all over muscle tone and lose weight by doing just one exercise.
The plank is one of the most popular and effective exercises for the abdominals in the whole world. It doesn’t just make the abs and shoulder girdle work, its workout for all the muscles in the body.
The essence of the plank is to ‘hang’ above the floor for several minutes once a day, supported only by your hands and toes. No-one would say that it is easy to be in this ‘hanging’ state, even for only a few minutes. In this pose, a huge number of muscles are activated.
The Classic Plank
The plank is a static exercise. There’s no movement in it, so the main thing is to hold your body right.
Lie on the floor stomach down. Bend your elbows at 90 degrees angles and transfer your weight onto your arms. Your body should form a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
Support yourself only on your forearms and the tips of your toes. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
Hold your body as level as possible, tense your stomach muscles and don’t relax them. Try not to point your thighs towards the floor.
Feet. Put them together. Keeping balance becomes more difficult, which increases the load on the stomach muscles.
Legs. Should be straight and tensed. Otherwise, the load on the abdominals will be reduced. This is what is keeping the spine from bending.
Buttocks. Keep tensed, and don’t relax them until the workout is over. Clenching the buttock muscles increases the activity of the whole muscular system.
Small of the back. This is the most difficult part! If you do the plank right, the lumber region of your spine should be flat. That means you shouldn’t round or bend the small of your back. Imagine that you’re holding it flat against a wall.
Stomach. Stretch it out, and then try to pull it towards your ribs. Throughout the workout keep your stomach in this position, but don’t slow down your breathing.
Elbows. Keep them directly below your shoulders, so as not to create unnecessary strain.
It’s important to breath out when assuming the pose and stay in position until a reasonable level of muscle fatigue is reached. Try to keep it up as long as possible; at first 10 seconds is enough. As a rule, people with differing levels of fitness keep the pose for anything from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. If you’re new to all this don’t try to break any records; start at the minimum.
This exercise for the abs is more effective than a traditional plank as you hold all your bodyweight on two points points of contact rather than four. You will need to make more effort to keep your balance.
While lying on your left side, place your elbow directly below your shoulder. Keep the legs straight. Put your right hand on your right thigh, still keeping those legs straight.
Tense your abdominal muscles and raise your hip from the floor until you form a right-angle, balancing on your forearm and feet. Remain in this position for 30-45 seconds. If you can’t hold it that long, repeat the exercise until you have spent a total of at least 30 seconds in this pose. Change sides and do it again.
Plank with raised leg. Raise one leg. By doing this you significantly increase the load on the muscular system and reduce support. This means your body will have to make an extra effort to hold the position. By reducing the area of contact with the floor the strain on the stomach muscles is significantly increased.
Plank with raised arm. Raise one arm. This is similar to the first variaton. You’ll have to make an effort not to fall on your side.
Side plank with arm and leg lift. Lie on your side, put your legs together and straighten them. Along with your torso they should make a straight line. Put your left forearm on the floor (with your elbow directly under your shoulder). Raise your right leg and arm. Hold this position for as long as you can.
Plank on an exercise ball. Rest your elbows on the ball or put your feet on it.
Benefits of this exercise
Firm buttocks. This exercise is a workout for your glutes and calf muscles, so you won’t just get them into shape, you’ll get rid of cellulite too.
A strong back. During the exercise the lower back muscles are strengthened, as are the shoulder and neck muscles. This can help to safeguard against osteochondrosis and other bone diseases in the small of the back and neck. Also you’ll get rid of pain above and between the shoulder blades caused by carrying heavy bags or constantly sitting at a computer.
Slim legs. The legs take most of the weight in this exercise. All the leg muscles are active, from the thighs to the calves. Don’t be alarmed if you feel a burning sensation in your muscles; that just means they’re working.
A flat stomach. When your whole body is straining, both your lower and side abs get a workout too.
Toned arms. It’s quite obvious that along with the legs the arms also get an intensive workout. They support the weight of your upper body.
The pelvis falls towards the floor and your body forms a hoop.
The tailbone points at the ceiling and the small of the back forms a bend.
To avoid these mistakes, point the tailbone towards your heels and pull your belly in. The stomach muscles should be strong, just as much as the muscles of the thighs and knees. Push your thighs up. You should feel that your lower abs are taunt and the small of the back is being lengthened. Push the heels gently back.
Don’t allow the thighs to hang down and don’t relax the knees. Try to ‘hover’ above the floor by stretching the spine and tensing the abdominal muscles. Don’t let your whole weight slip forward onto your forearms. Try to hold the legs together, toes side by side, don’t let them slip away from each other. The wider apart they are, the less load there is on the abdominals and the more on the knees.