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  • Writer's pictureMatt Powell

‘It’s not Fair, it wasn’t my fault’

Karate to appreciate consequence.

In 2011 I was still competing and once a month would head to SEKU squad training which was held in Dorchester. At the time, most of our squad were from the Portsmouth area or Plymouth and Cornwall, so the Dorset Judo dojo was the ideal central location.

We used to meet there once a month and sometimes fortnightly if we were working towards a high-profile tournament. Training would consist of two hours of kata work followed by two hours of kumite (sparring).

We had a fantastic team bond and we would really enjoy not just the training but also the camaraderie. I had recently bought a Black surf bus and I thoroughly enjoyed winding up our Squad Manager Terry Oliver by parking in his spot. (Sorry Terry).

Our Captain Dave Galloway had stepped back from competing after a great deal of success as he had recently become a father. I was the Vice-Captain and had wanted to pause competing at the same time, but Terry persuaded me to stay on for another year to help with the younger members transition up into the senior ranks.

Consequently, I was now Captain, which was a responsibility I enjoyed. I had started taking members from the Petersfield dojo to Squad training and some of my former junior students from Portchester Club would travel with us in my van from time to time.

Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I like to be early for everything. We used to leave my house at 6am sharp and this was not negotiable. One Sunday we were being joined by one of my former Juniors who was by then around 17 years old.

I clearly remember briefing him and saying, ‘if you are not there by 6am I will leave without you’. At 6.10am I received a phone call on my mobile asking where I was, to which I replied, ‘somewhere on the M27 you are late!’

The Student replied, I am not late, it’s only ten past six…… it’s not my fault!’

Fortunately, the student in question had a remarkable Dad who as a military man understood the value of important life lessons. We agreed to a compromise and he drove his son to intercept us at Services somewhere further along the route.

As a parent and a karate teacher I have one common frustration and that is the failure to grasp consequence. I agree with Simon Sinek that Millennials are given a hard time. It is not their fault they grew up in an era of participation medals and instant gratification. However, I cannot accept failure to appreciate consequence. This is something everyone can learn and appreciate.

I hope my student learnt the lesson that day? But I am certain that consistent effort in karate training teaches the lesson regularly. Karate done well is extremely honest. If you get hit in set sparring it is often because YOU failed to block effectively.

Accepting the mistake creates an opportunity for improvement. Those who never make mistakes learn nothing. We must keep stepping outside our comfort zones and seeking continuous improvement. Otherwise we stagnate and grow complacent.

I broke my arm in a karate tournament once. It was a freak accident and completely my fault. If I had kept a cool head, it would not have happened. It set my karate development back a couple of years and could have cost me my job. I however had no one to blame but myself. Now I always (TRY) to stay level headed.

My Son recently dropped my Ipad and snapped the headphone jack off leaving it stuck inside the device. He came to see me in floods of tears. I was upset about the ipad and headphones although I managed to fix it with the help of Youtube a straw and a glue gun. Oscars honesty had however impressed me, and I was happy that he understood the problem was his fault and he did not try to dodge the fact.

I well remember my Sensei telling me that it was often the case that the tournaments we lose teach us much more than those we win. I think this is the same for life if we reflect and appreciate route cause and consequence.

The first step is accepting when it is our fault and learning from it.

Oh and turning up on time of course.

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