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Being forged and moulded into something amazing. It takes courage to look within.

If we all stopped and took stock of where we are right now in life, looking back at what we've been through, endured and sacrificed along the way, we should see that everything has been a life lesson and experience, teaching us what we will and won't put up with. Opening new doors and allowing opportunities to flow in.

I began my study of Karate way back in 1987, at the young age of 17, I was highly competitive in sports yet had no idea how to defend myself, other than my mental strength to not give up. I had many injuries from football and rugby, and this continued throughout my Karate until I retrained my thinking and conditioned my body to move faster and not get hit. Simple really. My training now is on my own due to circumstances beyond my control, but I train for my own benefit.

For every relationship breakup, we learn what we will put up with and what we won't accept. This isn't to blame the other party, this is about learning what you want in a relationship and what you don't want.

Dealing with anxiety and stress and trauma from Fire Service life and coming out the other end after leaving the job. Noticing when my body was near on exhausted and ready to collapse. My head would literally hit the pillow or even makeshift pillow and I'd be out, asleep in minutes. Shear exhaustion. We learn how to keep going and our limitations in our thinking and physical body.

When down and folded and worn out, near on broken, if you like, this is when we realise how amazing we really are. Resilient and strong.

Mentally and physically.

Even if at the time you cannot see it.

The Samurai is basically there to 'serve.' Respect, protect, honour and obedience to their Lord.

To defend giving their life if needed. A modern-day public sector worker I guess.

Taking a look at the Japanese Katana sword, the weapon of the Samurai I cannot help but be drawn to its beauty. Not only as a weapon of death but also as a symbol of life.

It's down to perception.

It has been forged in excessive heat, folded and tempered many times, cooled and reheated and folded some more until it is then moulded and shaped, crafted and sharpened into a work of art.

The hamon, (water edge,) has clay placed along it so that it heats at a different rate from the rest of the blade. The curve allows the blade to continuously cut as it is drawn.

The craftsmanship goes back many generations and skills passed down the line. The true test of the blade is the cutting test. Where it is subjected to forces and shocks that will not affect the blade edge.

Then we look at the person who carries such a sword. For me, it holds a sense of humility, a reminder that I am not good at everything and you have to put in the time and effort and practice to be good.

To seek perfection of one's own character and spiritual self.

To me, the katana has to be respected, as does any opponent or difficult situation. We train to eliminate risks and to overcome fears and doubts in our own abilities.

To draw the blade and cut as you go is called Batto Jutsu. This I began to practice back in France, training for attacks from both sides, plus front and back. Drawing and cutting an opponent in the same movement.

Perfection to swing the blade in a clean line and allow it to continuously flow into the next movement. To then rehouse, without injury to self.

Not to be thinking of injury or death, just on your movements. Control of your breathing and holding an inner calmness.

Perfection of movement. The Japanese will consider the use of the paintbrush in Calligraphy to be similar to that of the sword. Focusing their breath and maintaining control of their 'tanden' (stomach,) the centre of being. Your centre of gravity.

Anything that can hold your full attention is mindful and a form of meditation.

So I use this to train my body and mind.

To be mindful of my surroundings and be completely in the moment. Allowing no other distractions to draw away the focus of my mind. To control the weight of this heavy blade and have the physical strength to create movement and yet have controlled actions and physical form to allow this symbol to look effortless in its movements.

Change this to a golf club and how many practices their golf swing, over and over. And to strike a ball just once too near the hole encourages you to continue to seek that perfection.

The perception of our thinking is what controls our thoughts and our take on the world as we see it.

I strive to better myself through exercise, never to show off or say look at me, or I can do tricks.

I do this to encourage others to try something that you enjoy and to keep going. Preserve through difficult times, be folded and forged and know that something amazing will come out at the end of your journey. Accept that mistakes happen. This is what makes us unique.

We all have flaws and scars. And we all make mistakes.

If we look again at the Samurai, they had 2 swords. The Katana and the Wakizashi. The Wakizashi usually came from the katana that had been broken in combat. And designed to be used inside the home as the longer katana would hit the roof of the buildings. Plus they also had the Tanto, (knife.)

My message here is to encourage others to look within for perfection, not from others and their acknowledgements. If you look at the broken sword, all can be reforged and recreate something new.

So be mindful and present in your actions.

Acknowledge how amazing you are and how resilient you truly are.

Perfection is within us all and of varying levels.

Your perfection is different to mine and mine to yours.

Your journey too.

As long as we encourage each other as we strive we have hope.

Karate follows the Buddhism line, I am spiritual and open-minded.

Everything should be respected and have a place in this world.

Life in every breath, this is Bushido, the perfection in everything you do and of character.

A way of life. Oss.


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