Learning from the Masters

I went to karate camp this summer. Not words I thought I’d ever string together in my mid-40s.

As you may know from a previous blog post, I started Shotokan Karate at Kio Karate in January. My partner Pierre and I decided to attend to four-day Koyo Camp in Ottawa with a group from our dojo.I learned A LOT and not just about karate. Here are the four leadership lessons I gained from camp:

Sweating Does NOT Mean Stop

While we definitely could be talking about the workout here, I’m talking about the leadership lesson of spirit. Sure, I knew there would be a lot of higher belts, but I was looking forward to the adventure. Or I thought.

I’m in the gym at Algonquin College the first night ~ one of two newbie yellow belts ~ in a crowd of mostly multiple-degree black belts. Being in a room where everyone ~ including the children ~ knows way more than I do is a very strange experience for a teacher. I was sweating. Bad. And we hadn’t started the class.

My initial thought was, “Run!” I admit it. Then I considered the shopping and touristy things I could do in Ottawa over four days. But I stayed. I knew if I left, I’d alway regret it. I was so nervous that I did go blank a few times, but I stayed and I learned.

2 You’re NOT Too Old to Do What You Love

Born in 1941, Sensei Tanaka of Japan holds five world championship karate titles. We were honoured to have him as special guest instructor for camp. His passion for karate and for teaching was obvious. He moves well for his age. His joy at being at camp, meeting old friends and making new ones was contagious.

The biggest leadership lesson I learned from him is that he may not be able to compete like he did before, but he finds a way to do what he loves. He still has much to give to the martial art community he loves.

3 You’re NOT Your Best Yet

Let’s not confuse Sensei’s Tanaka’s love for karate with making him into an instructor full of sunshine and light. He is a meticulous teacher. You pay attention, and you work. Then you work harder. Everything you would expect of having the privilege of learning from a master.

No matter if you’ve been training for four months or 40 years, he helped everyone grow.

Kio Crew

Kio Karate group at Koyo Camp. Just missing our Sensei Powell who was in meetings.

4 Do NOT Forget to Giggle

Koyo Camp was an amazing experience. We earned our time off in those four days. LOL

I met new people from across the country and got to know my own dojo peeps better. I toasted with Sensei Tanaka (see above pic) at the banquet. We watched the history of Canada video on Parliament Hill, ate in some fabulous restaurants, and laughed a lot.

I’m looking forward to the lessons from next year’s Koyo Camp now.

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