Shifting Gears


I sat around contemplating my retirement yesterday. A whole new chapter had opened in my life and as exciting as that was, I found myself at a loss at times as to what I was going to do with myself. Who was I after over 23 years of a job defining me as to who and what I was?
As I thought further I realized something I have known for many years and seemed to have forgotten in the past few months: my job has NEVER defined who I was as a person.

What did?

Well, the job was what I did. What and who I was and am have always revolved around karate and the dojo. Quite simply, there is nowhere else in the universe that I feel more like “me” than the dojo.

I looked back over the time that has passed since my surgery in March. I thought of all of the time I have been able to spend at the school and all of the ideas and effort I have been able to put into it. The past few months have given me greater peace than any time I can remember in my life. I have felt at ease. I have felt joy and happiness. I have felt like I was…me.

I have always said that the dojo was not a business. I have always said that I have a job and that is what pays my bills. That is as true now as it has ever been with one small exception: I have retired. I have been blessed with finding a part-time job that could quite possibly become a second career. The thing is that job is part-time and affords me more time than I have ever had to focus on the dojo yet still supplements my retirement. In other words: I still have the income to support my family who I love and as a bonus I have more time to devote to my art which I love. I have to smile about that because you see, it’s not a business, it’s as much a part of me as the air that I breath. I was reading an article today written by a martial arts businessman. He went on and on about how people who taught karate as a “hobby” and didn’t make it their primary business were hurting the “indusrty” and were embaressing. I SO stronly disagree! In my opinion these people are the very heart and soul of the martial arts. They, like me, do it because they LOVE it. They do it because it is part of them and who and what they are.

Thinking like this and meditating on it I couldn’t help but to smile at my hidden blessing. I see other people who run their martial arts school as a business. They struggle. They market. They work one or two other jobs or own one or two other businesses either to make ends meet or to gain as much in material things as they possibly can. This sort of mind-set, this environment, makes many of them ruthless. It makes them businessmen who will go to any length at all to be successful.

My blessing? Simply put; I have the same exact income, if not better, coming in from toiling for so many years in government service and twice as much time to devote to the thing in life that I love. I don’t have to be ruthless. I simply have to be what I have been here in this town since I began: a Sensei. I don’t have to grow my “business”. I get the opportunity to enlarge my “family”. I don’t have to stand on a rooftop and shout to the world about how good I am or how moral I am. I simply have to be those things.

It’s wonderfully strange and funny. I have shifted gears on a very deep level. Even though I have shifted gears it’s seamless like Captain Kirk shifting the Enterprise into warp speed. The gears have shifted but no one feels a thing…but we are going faster.

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  1. May 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

    A new chapter in your life, sensei. You are so blessed ! !

  2. May 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    My heartiest congratualtions to you, sensei, on retiring and getting the part-time job that allows you go do all with your dojo that you dream of! Such a fine example of a vibrant senior citizen you are to all of us!

  3. May 25, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Sesei I know you don’t have to be ruthless but what would Sun-Tzu say. I bet he’d be ashamed…

    Seriously though it’s great not having to market things you don’t believe in isnt it?

  4. May 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    you are a light house that shines so that others can tread water (by themself) safely (~_~) retirement is not the end…it means you have more time to achieve your goals.

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