Over the years I’ve been teaching children about a simple but powerful concept – the ant philosophy. I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four- part philosophy, and here is the first part: ants never quit. That’s a good philosophy. If they’re headed somewhere and you try to stop them; they’ll look for another way. They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, they’ll climb around. They keep looking for another way. What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.
Second, ants think winter all summer. That’s an important perspective. You can’t be so naive as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering in their winter food in the middle of summer.
An ancient story says, “Don’t build your house on the sand in the summer.” Why do we need that advice? Because it is important to be realistic. In the summer, you’ve got to think storm. You’ve got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun. Think ahead.
The third part of the ant philosophy is that ants think summer all winter. That is so important. During the winter, ants remind themselves, “This won’t last long; we’ll soon be out of here.” And the first warm day, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down, but then they come out the first warm day. They can’t wait to get out.
And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy. How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All that he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the “all-that-you-possibly-can” philosophy.
Wow, what a great seminar to attend – the ant seminar. Never give up, look ahead, stay positive and do all you can.
This philosophy works wonderfully with our karate training, studies in school and what must be done once we are in the work-a-day world.
1. Never quit – Traditional Isshin-ryu Karate is a life-long journey. We never learn everything that there is to know. We realize that there are four levels of study and mastery requires commitment to study the art, diligent training and the desire to investigate the depth of knowledge found in the basics, kata, weapons and kumite aspects of the art.
MEMORIZE AND BEGIN TO LEARN THE PROPER TECHNIQUES.
PRACTICE DAILY TO BEGIN TO MAKE OUR TECHNIQUES SMOOTH, STRONG AND FOCUSED.
WORK TO UNDERSTAND THE MEANING BEHIND EACH INDIVIDUAL MOVEMENT AND UNDERSTAND ITS PROPER USE AND PURPOSE.
STRIVE TO BECOME ONE WITH EACH TECHNIUQE, COMBINING THE PROPER SEQUENCES IN KATA, UNDERSTANDING HOW THIS STUDY UNITES OUR BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT – SO INDIVIDUAL AND COMBINED MOVES BECOME SECOND NATURE AND OUR REACTIONS BECOME IMMEDIATE, IF NEEDED.
2. Perspective – In our training we know there are soft and hard techniques. Soft techniques are not weak techniques. With these we use another person’s strength against the individual when confronted by a stronger opponent. We meet force with force only when it is necessary. We train today because we must be prepared before our efforts are needed to protect ourselves, or our families or friends.
3. Think summer – Use the warmth of the sun’s energy to inspire positive action. Know that the struggles of winter make us stronger when our bodies need energy and action. Focus on the good times knowing each season has good and bad qualities. Positive thought is the best way to develop the attitude and the type of personality with which other people like to associate. As positive thought becomes the guiding force in one’s life, success will become a normal part of life. Set backs will become a challenge to grow and advance one’s abilities.
4. Do all you can (inspired effort) – This is what traditional martial arts strives to impart to each student. Karate is an individual, thought oriented, mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual pursuit. It is intended to be a life-long endeavor applying the four stages mentioned in number one above. Though one stirves to make each move and combination of moves second nature; rushing to try to achieve perfection only slows the process. One must be open to learn using the concept of “mushin” (the empty mind where one does not challenge or resist what is taught) and “the beginner’s mind” (the mind that is always seeking to learn, without changing form or kata, to advance one’s skill and understanding.