Having just turned 24 a little over a month ago, I am, by most people’s standards, still very
young. With the average life expectancy of a human now being 78.6 years old, I technically still
have about two thirds of my life left to live.
Speaking from a karate standpoint on the other hand, I feel as though my age isn’t doing me any
During the first six months to a year of being at RMAI, I was often the oldest beginner belt in the
room while there were several kids who, despite being younger than me by more than half my
age, were still considered my seniors in terms of rank.
Though I try not to compare myself to others, which is a constant issue I have, not only in karate
but in all aspects of life, I often look at some of these “Karate Kids” and find myself a little
envious of them. I didn’t start doing karate until after I had graduated college while a lot of the
younger advanced belts started taking classes before they even started kindergarten.
For a lot of these kids who’ve been training for most of their lives, there are still relatively no
boundaries as to what they could accomplish; whether that’s winning grand championships in
tournaments, attending countless seminars around the country, or even becoming a Master
instructor. Looking at myself, 24 and a purple belt, reaching a Master’s rank might not ever be in
my reach; which I will admit can be a little disheartening at times.
That being said, for those like myself who sometimes lack confidence in their own potential,
Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura, one of the original karate masters of Okinawa, has some words of
wisdom when it comes to situations like these.
“To all those whose progress remains hampered by ego-related distractions, let humility–the
spiritual cornerstone upon which karate rests–serve to remind one to place virtue before vice,
values before vanity and principles before personalities.”
In other words, while the flashy aspects of karate such as the tournaments and trophies are not
completely without value, they are not the ultimate goal of one’s martial arts training. Rather it’s
the values and virtues, or the philosophy and mental understanding of martial arts that is of more
The ego is often what stands in the way of us reaching our true potential because we’re too
focused on what others think, or more likely our perception of what others think of us, when we
ought to be using all of that mental and physical energy on our own personal training.
Those here at Revolution Martial Arts Institute know, or should know, that we follow a particular
student creed that our training is to be modeled after:
1. I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my
mental growth and physical health.
2. I will develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.
3. I will use common sense before self-defense and never be abusive or offensive.
4. We are a Black Belt school, we are motivated, we are dedicated, we are on a quest to be
While there were many things that were said in this creed, nowhere does it say that your front
kicks have to touch the ceiling, or you have to place at every tournament you go to, or you’re too
old to be a warrior.
Not to get political, but martial arts knows no boundaries such as gender, race, or age. In my
opinion, the only thing that martial arts discriminates against is weakness. Weakness not in terms
of physical strength, but weakness in terms of the mind. To be a warrior means to use your
mental strength even when your physical strength has reached its limit. To be a warrior means to
think in terms of bettering yourself as compared to just simply being better than your classmates.
Being a warrior means not letting all the glitz and glam that competing tournaments might offer
or doing really extravagant jump kicks get in the way of your training potential.
Sure, I could be all “woe is me” because I didn’t start training at the ripe age of three, or six, or
even ten or twelve; but being that I’ll never age backwards, without a great scientific miracle that
is, that seems like a bit of a waste of time.
Who knows, maybe in 10 years down the road, when I’m potentially a black belt, or maybe even
a second or third dan, there might be a girl not too dissimilar from myself who will look at me
and think that they’ll never get to where I am because they started too late or because their kicks
aren’t as good as mine, etc. Then when she gets her black belt, the cycle will continue.
I bet that even the black belts and Master instructors within our association look to their seniors
and think the same things as I do about their own techniques; but that’s their story to tell.