#30 in a continuing series— 84 days in the teaching life of an
American sensei in 1999)

continue my dialog with my young apprentice, Dharman.

rarely thought of in this light, the martial arts engage everyone, all the time,
in the spiritual arena. Too many students and unfortunately, instructors as well,
are dimly aware of this fact. The obvious curriculum; drilling basics,
free-sparring and form work represents the surface action underlying a vast sea
of churning personal energies. It is in these depths that the heart and soul of
karatedo can be found. Core energies are shaped in these hidden encounters.
When students spar, drill, practice kata, they are learning about themselves in
profound ways and about how they impact upon others. When you gain sensitivity,
you gain in understanding about how your fundamental energies function. Conquer
your inner obstacles, like stopping your sibling’s abuse or standing up to a
condescending boss, is a far more valuable lesson than mastering a Chinto kata bunkai.
The Vedic scriptures instruct, ‘As on the outside so on the inside.’ As you and
Scott organize yourselves on the physical plane, that very organization will seep
into the psychological plane, accruing value in the interpersonal realms.

you studied martial arts to the point that you could virtually talk your way
out of any conflict with another
person. Would that be a worthwhile reward for your years of martial arts study?
Suppose you had to choose between exceptional physical skills or the former ability. Which would you prefer?      

I think a lot of marital arts
practitioners miss the boat toward gaining a higher level of being. Learning
how to rise above base conflicts moves us from one belt to another, from one
rung of the consciousness ladder to next rung. If there is not a discernible
change in the quality of your martial practice than you have not ascended up
your ladder. You are merely taking in the scenery. Quantifying what’s around you
does not qualify your condition.”