By Doug Walsh
# 11 of the Shoto Niju Kun (20 Precepts of Shoto) states, “Karate wa yu no gotoshi taezu netsu o ataezareba moto no mizu ni kaeru” – “Karate is just like hot water; if you do not give it continuous heat, it will become cold.” If a pot of water is heated, then left unheated for a certain amount of time, it will become cold. “Cold” being not hot any longer and not just “warm.” The water must be heated up again and kept warm. Yet, water heated too long will boil over and evaporate. There is a fine balance.
In Karate training, the same applies. It is good and well to attend the dojo and train in class regularly. But what about the days that does not attend class (for any reason, out of necessity or pure choice)? When missing any time longer than 1-2 days (at the maximum), the mind and body become “cold” and need to be heated up again. To avoid this, the maxim “little and often” is much better than simply training a lot, only to stop and have to return to one’s previous level and condition.
Set aside time to train SOMETHING (it need not be the same thing each training session) rather than nothing at all. This not need be a long training session. Of course, if one has more time, can and wants to train longer, then that should be done as well. Use the time to train wisely. When returning to training in the dojo, one will feel as if not starting over from where one has left off, but rather feel as if continuing from training session in the dojo. But more importantly, one’s Karate will be more personal and from the inside due to training in isolation and having to be strict with oneself to avoid complacency and laziness. We must overcome ourselves. This concept applies to all areas of our lives.
Yet, the opposite is also possible. By overtraining, one’s “water” (in this case Karate) will overheat, boil and evaporate like steam. The brain and the body need time to recharge and refresh. Never giving the body and the mind time to recharge and refresh (yet even while still keeping one’s Karate “warm”), it is only a matter of time before one becomes tired of training and training becomes a burden instead of a means to a constant quest and search for self-improvement and other benefits, and despite training at times being exhausting and demanding, indeed a source of enjoyment. While training always applies to life itself and in effect one is always training, by only focusing on the physical aspects, outward results and comparing oneself to others Karate can become a source of frustration, largely due the point of diminishing returns. It’s vital to have other hobbies and interests outside of Karate, even if Karate is one’s main interest in passion.
A balance must be had. Training a little is indeed a lot in the “big picture.”