Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"kawaru" 変わる which means "to change".  As some of you know, I worked at a Lexus dealership for a few years, mostly while I was in undergrad, and a lot changed while I was there.  I had changes in supervisors, changes in materials and equipment, and even changes in how work was prioritized. 

With the changes came how I dealt with them.  Much like anything in life, the beginning saw me trying to do everything I was shown mostly because, without any experience, that's really the only thing I could do.  Some time later, with a better understanding of what and how things needs to be done, I began to adapt the work to fit my work style and standards.  The latter end of my work, however, fraught with mild frustration as new people, standards, or procedures were introduced that didn't always jive with me.

Some (including me) would say that wasn't really worth putting up a fight about.  But more than that, insteading of wasting my time arguing, I tried to find a way stick to my methods while still accomodating and adapting to the new environment.  Sounds pretty reasonable but the sheer number of conflicts I've seen at all my places of work and elsewhere suggests that it doesn't happen that often.

And such is the crossroads I'm at now in terms of karate.  This past weekend was the Karate BC Provincials and, long story short, I ended up third.  But I wasn't particularly happy with how I did, having lost early on and was pulled up because I lost to the eventual second place winner.  My big issue is, as one of the coaches explained to me, that while there is nothing wrong with my karate, there is lots lacking from my competition karate.

Rika Usami - gold medal individual women's kata - 2010 Asian Games
Competition kata is judged a bit like figure skating, with a panel of judges looking for technical details as much as presentation.  The time I spent in Japan was focussed on learning karate in the martial arts sense- the function beneath the form, the uses of specific stances/positions, the more abstract as well as the concrete ideas that underlie the movements.  I still have much to learn (as a recent black belt seminar showed) but that approach has led me to be somewhat critical of competition kata at times.

This, of course, now ties in to the same adapting ideas I mentioned before.  I think I had issue with competition kata because I thought that's what some people did all the time.  But I realise now that the best martial artists can have a "competition mode" that doesn't sacrifice their "traditional understanding" (technically, the best word for this is budo 武道).  In fact, the best ones would most likely be able to blend the two together, streamlining their karate to be competitive while still keeping the core aspects and ideas of their martial arts.

Key to the next stage
Thus is the next step for me, at least in terms of competition.  There will be things that I can learn and do that will make my kata more "presentable" and hopefully more competitive.  One of the first steps is that having medalled, I can now start training with the BC Team.  This medal, then, more represents what I can do now than what I've already done.  I'm already further along than I planned for in 2010 and as 2011 progresses, I'll keep refining my goals for this and the following year.

Most interesting (or perhaps stubborn) is that it took something like to make the wholesale change in my thinking.  Guess I still have much to learn haha.....