Right effort – If your practice is good, you may become proud of it. What you do is good but something more is added to it. Pride is extra. Right effort is to get rid of something extra. If you do something in the spirit of non-achievement, there is good quality to it.
This kind of bad effort is called “Dharma-ridden” or “practice ridden”. You are involved in some idea of practice or attainment, and you cannot get out of it. When you are involved in some dualistic idea it means your practice is not pure. By purity we just mean things as they are. When something is added, that is impure. If you think you will get something from practice already you are involved in impure practice… When you practice, just practice.
Before we act we think, and this thinking leaves some trace. Why do we train techniques thousands of times? How does this act of thinking, betray you in a self-defence situation? What we call “attachment” is just these traces of our thoughts & activity. Like pride for something we have done.
There is a saying “To catch two birds with one stone”. That is what people usually try to do… They find it difficult to be concentrated on one activity. In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body & mind. You should be concentrated in what you do. Think Musashi and his clean cut.
When you practice Karate you become one with karate. The rules of clubs may change but the spirit remains the same. Usually when it is so simple we say, “Oh I know that”, or “It is quite simple, everyone knows that”. But if we do not find its value, it means nothing.
Moment after moment we are creating something and this is the joy of our life. Our life can be seen as a crossing of a river. The goal of our life’s effort is to reach the other side, Nirvana. The true wisdom of life is that in each step of the way, the other shore is actually reached. Choose to be happy now.
Poor ways to practice
Usually when you practice karate, you become very idealistic, and you set up an ideal or goal which you can strive to attain and fulfil… When you are idealistic, you have some gaining idea, by the time you attain your ideal or goal, your gaining idea will create another ideal… Because your attainment is always ahead you will always be sacrificing yourself now for some ideal in the future.
When we practice, just practice and whether we find joy in our practice or not, we just do it. This is the path to black belt and beyond.
When you are tired of practice, you should recognise this as a warning signal. You become discouraged with your practice when your practice has been idealistic. Another mistake will be practice for the sake of the joy of it. This is not poor practice, but compared to the true practice it is not so good. You should enjoy training, but enjoyment should never be your only reason to train. Thousands of repetitions of the same thing over and over for years cannot always be enjoyable, and be wary of clubs that seek to entertain.
If you find some difficulty in your practice, that is the warning that you have some wrong idea, so you have to be careful. Our practice cannot be perfect, but without being discouraged by this we should continue it. THIS IS THE SECRET OF PRACTICE.
The purpose of studying karate is not to study karate but to study ourselves.