Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Six Tasks

I have contemplated whether or not to commit this experience to print, but I feel impressed so to do and when God commands, I obey.  My gentle reader undoubtedly knows that my children practice martial arts and I hold fast to meditation of any uplifting kind, but recently my son had the opportunity to take his discipline to a higher plane and I sneakily followed in his wake.

Apparently our dojo requires a student approaching black belt complete six specific tasks illustrating character and discipline within 45 days.  My son, though yet an orange belt, decided to take the opportunity of meeting this challenge head on right now.  The tasks include fifty acts of kindness, fifty chores around the house without complaint, five days without junk food, practicing a given karate technique 1, 000 times, reading two martial arts based books, writing ten handwritten letters and delivering them in some way, and mentoring students of a lower rank ten times.  Such may prove difficult to an adult and my little son is only eight.  We were neck and neck in the thousand repetitions of crashing elbow but since he won our race a few days before I crossed that particular finish line.  When he abstained from junk food I abstained with him but to make it harder and fair I followed the advice given by the sensei to avoid all sugars, including fruit.  Tomatoes can become an absolute delight under such circumstances and after finishing that task I found my "need" for sweets had diminished considerably.  I felt calmer and more stable in general and though I do eat fruit now I have not been in a rush to continue my bittersweet Ghirardelli cocoa breaks.

I hit a snag in the mentoring task since, as I am not even a white belt I have no rank or authority of any kind in the dojo it proved physically impossible for me to complete it and was about to simply finish five tasks without doing the last.  However, upon some prayer it dawned on me that I volunteer in my son's class every Monday and mentor children every time I go.  I suppose it will have to do.

I am grateful that my son gets recognition in the karate school.  He more than deserves it.  Each time he completes a task he receives a corresponding patch to sew onto his uniform.  I have finished all of the tasks save mentoring four more people and finishing the second book I chose entitled The Book of the Samurai. The first was The Five Rings - an excellent read.  I don't need the recognition and as for the award, well I don't have a gi on which to place it anyway.  But isn't martial arts more about building character and less about external recognition?  Wouldn't it be more fitting to simply do the work silently and know within yourself that you did it?  Indeed, for that reason I would not write and post this but if God would have me hit the "Publish" button, then His will be done and not mine.    

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