Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 Letter to the membership

Manny Saavedra, Kaicho

Your life is something you create moment by moment. You are ultimately responsible for where you are, whom you're with, and what you're doing. Like a painting, a sculpture, or a pottery bowl, you can create something fine and useful with your life, or you can throw it away. Karate philosophy shows us that we have the power to make a life of great quality. Karate philosophy teaches us not to fear failure, but to use it as a teacher. Karate philosophy teaches us never to surrender to a second-rate way of life.

My approach to teaching Karate is both with an Eastern as well as Western flavor. A student at the University asked me "Is it true that you have your students meditate before doing Kata?" "Of course", I replied, "however we also meditate during the performance of the Kata".

We in Sansei are all Satori seekers, because that represents a momentary vacation, free of problems or complications, free of past or future. Satori is the hidden goal behind all our aspirations. Satori is the core of the moving experience. It's the clue, which sends us onward, the great pathway; it's a preview of spiritual life.

The moment any person puts on a gi, that person begins a journey down the road to achievement. The road is neither straight nor flat, but rather has many curves and hills. These are the obstacles that a martial artist calls challenges that stand in the way of achievement. With hard work and dedication, the martial artist overcomes challenges and continues forward with stronger character and greater knowledge, awaiting the next opportunity to achieve. Along the road waits a black belt - the symbol of the achievement of knowledge, experience and character gained through hard work. Martial artists understand that it is the accumulation of many small achievements that propels us forward in the journey to achieve great things in life.

Through my evolution Goju-Ryu Karate-do has become an art of expression through technique and movement on the personal level. I believe that a good Sensei assesses your qualities and finds the best; I believe that we as Sensei’s can have a profound influence on our student’s self-concept and outlook on life. Karate to me is and education and I try to convey useful lessons of living through lectures and movement. Teaching is an art of communication
The important thing is not what a Sensei knows, but what his students know; not what he can do, but what they can do.
A good Sensei can speak the language of the intellect, and communicate clearly so the student understands.
An excellent Sensei can speak the language of the body, by showing the muscles, bones, and nerves how something should feel if done properly.
A great Sensei speaks the language of the emotions, by inspiring and motivating, and rekindling the original love of Karate with which the student began.
There are gifted Sensei’s out there, and you may be one of them. Always remember, that a good Sensei not only teaches, but also conveys the principles of living through their teachings.

To lead wisely is to live wisely and to seek personal balance and integration with the cycles of nature. Always reject leaders who rule by force, intimidation, or personality, reducing other people to "followers." Recognizing the destruction brought by combative egos, the danger of blind devotion to charismatic leaders is dangerous. A leader must affirm wisdom beyond competition; he must lead with caring and humility.

A good leader is not a superstar who mesmerizes with the force of rhetoric or flashy techniques. While lesser people crave power and dominance, a good leader rejects competitive hierarchies as not natural. Leaders build networks, realizing were part of the interlocking web of life. Good leaders lead with a new combination of talents: cooperation, awareness of the cycles, courage, and facilitation. Good leaders draw upon
In order to see clearly, we must look beyond ourselves.

The Sansei system is in the business of making leaders. When we take on leadership roles at home, work, and Dojo’s we need to ask ourselves: how can I create an atmosphere of greater trust and commitment? How can I help others do their best? How can I create harmony?
We can learn by listening, watching, observing the cycles of nature and man. We can also learn from others. We all know people who exemplify this kind of leadership, seek them out and study them.

While I cannot tell you what your life’s work is in any detail, I can suggest a few terms to serve as a frame of reference while you are making your search. In your life’s work, you will find a mix of integrity, service, enjoyment, and excellence.

Integrity: Your life’s work is something you deeply care about. In line with your values and ideals, it’s something you can be proud to work for. Of course, it is important that your work not conflict with your values and ideals. More than this, a life’s work is born out of your visions, values, and ideals. It’s giving life to your ideals, anchoring them in the everyday world of action.
Key Words: Purposeful, Meaningful, responsible, honest, truthful.
Ask yourself: Who am I?

Service: Your life’s work is your way of making this world a better place. It’s something you can make an important contribution to. We all want to give; to know that we do is benefiting others. Your life’s work is an opportunity to put your love in action. It’s your way of taking a stand to help your fellow man.
Key Words: Helping, caring, loving, giving, contribution.
Ask yourself: How can I make this world a better place?

Enjoyment: Your life’s work is something you love to do, something your talents can find full expression through. If we enjoy our work, we are sure to bring our creativity and enthusiasm to it. If we do not, we are sure to get burnt out, frustrated, resentful, or indifferent. No matter how noble the ideal or seemingly valuable your service, you must bring joy to it if you are to be truly successful. Work without joy is a chore or a bore. Channel your creative powers into meaningful contributions.
Key Words: Talents, creating, joy, gratitude.
Ask Yourself: What do I love to do?

Excellence: Your life’s work is something you can give you’re all too. Something you can describe yourself to. The dancer has his/her body pain, the writer struggles and racks his brain, the craftsman sweats every detail, and the musician has his endless scales. Always quality has its price. It takes extra effort to make it nice.
Key Words: Dedication, persistence, determination, quality.
Ask yourself: What can I dedicate to enough persist to excellence?

Commitment flows from personal values

Human beings just don’t put their hearts into something they don’t believe in. We don’t commit energy and intensity to something that’s not a fit for us personally. Like wearing a pair of slacks that are to tight, it’s not very comfortable, we look awkward, we feel embraced, and we can’t move around very easily.

I feel that values make a difference in how we behave inside organizations and how they feel about themselves, their colleagues, and their leaders. We know that people expect their leaders to stand for something; that they expect them to have the courage of their convictions; and that credibility is the foundation of leadership. The first step toward credibility as a leader is clarifying values.

The definition of teaching is to present material in a competent manner, which causes the desired learning to occur. The reason people teach Karate vary, but one of the most important reasons is to accept responsibility to develop leadership within the organization and other skills necessary to improve the quality of the practitioner in the next generation. Much effort and self-discipline are required to develop these skills. But learning to care for and to lead others will develop character and make life meaningful.

Since knowledge and information in the civilized world has come from work of people whom lived before us, there is an obligation to those who come after. Understanding this will develop a strong respect for seniors and a strong feeling of responsibility for juniors. This responsibility to juniors or future generations is an obligation to posterity.
The how to teach format of the World Sansei Goju-Ryu Karate Organization will be broken down into four parts.

To The Practitioner and the Sensei

Karate is not for everyone to pursue. The effort required becoming clear, precise, graceful and elegant is immense and never ending.
Some practitioners have “Dark Reflections” due to character flaws and probably never should be taught the more advanced methods of practice. Others are simply too weak to advance beyond the most basic steps.
For those who have character flaws, which may prove dangerous to those around them, the more advanced aspects of energy (Ki) control and development must be withheld; and only the external structure learned. The practitioner who possesses clarity, precision, grace and elegance will reflect these same characteristics in all aspects of behavior.