Karate for the Head Or Heart?
Many years ago, when I was teaching karate, I could usually tell how well my students would perform from their motivation to learn in the first place. Often it was just a passing fancy, an ego trip, or a belt. But for others it was a burning desire.
Once, a university professor approached me and told me he wanted to become a black belt in karate. In fact, he confided, it had been his goal for over fifteen years. Now, for the first time, he inquired what it would take to make his goal a reality. I told him that to achieve this distinguished rank in karate, he would need to dedicate at least one hour a day for four years. He was visibly disappointed. After a moment, he said, "I had no idea it would take that kind of effort." He walked away and never again pursued karate. He had committed a wish to paper and somehow hoped it would magically happen, but he hadn't even bothered to learn what it takes, let alone start on the path. When he discovered the amount of work, commitment, and time required to achieve a black belt, he lost interest and gave up.
One week later, Mark Porath, a strapping fourteen-year- old, approached me and asked the same question. When I told him it would take him two hours a day and five years of his life, he responded, "Is that all? When can I start?"
Mark's heartfelt desire to earn a black belt was a Core Desire for him, and he went after it wholeheartedly. He was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen.
Five years later, Mark was one of the best black belts I had ever seen. He went on to become the state champion, winning nearly every tournament he entered. Mark never wrote down that he wanted to be a black belt-he just wanted it with all his heart and went after it, not letting any obstacles stand in his way.
Mark's Core Desire originated from a serious physical disability. When he was born, his feet did not face forward but pointed outward. Until he was nine years old, the way he walked earned him the nickname "Penguin." Because of his problem, he couldn't run and play like the other kids, he could only watch.
When he was nine years old, Mark underwent an amazing operation. Doctors surgically turned each of his legs and feet forward. He was in a body cast from his chest to his ankles for nine months. When they removed the cast, his muscles had atrophied and he had to learn to walk all over again. This experience left Mark with little coordination. Unless he was leaning against a wall, he couldn't lift either of his legs without immediately losing his balance.
Mark came to me wanting to learn karate, but without something to lean on, he would begin to fall when he began a simple kick. Before he could recover from a poorly executed kick, he would fall down. Suffering from a deep feeling of physical inadequacy and a lack of self-esteem, he was angry at the world.
But his desire to master karate came from deep within his heart. His lack of self-esteem drove him to excel. He wanted to be the best at karate-to prove to the world that he could be really good at something.
This is what a heart-set looks and feels like. How else could Mark have invested so much time and effort, in spite of his physical challenge, and attain such a high pinnacle in karate?
By Jack M. Zufelt
"Mentor To Millions