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The Fox And The Rabbit

A Zen master was out for a walk with one of his students when they noticed a fox chasing a rabbit.

“According to an ancient saying the rabbit will escape,” said the master.

“Not so,” replied the student, “the fox is faster.”

“Never-the less, the rabbit will elude the fox,” the master stated.

“How can you be so certain?” asked the student.

“The fox is running for its’ dinner. The rabbit is running for its’ life.”


I love this story. It is one of the many tales that lead us to understand that everything is dependent on our perspective and just how we look at things.

Many people ask me how I manage things at the dojo. They write me and ask how I survive, and even thrive, against the various McDojos that seem to want to compete with me. There is actually one gentleman who consistently writes me asking these things. I think the answer can be found in the story of the fox and the rabbit.

In the story, the fox is after the rabbit for food. If he catches the rabbit he will, without a doubt, consume him. That is his way. It is his nature and is part of the order of things. Yet, the fox does not need to catch the rabbit. There is plenty of food around for the hungry predator should the rabbit get away. Even if there isn’t, the fox surely will not die if he misses one meal.

McDojos are a lot like the fox. They are huge. They consume everything they can. Sometimes they consume things to the point that it is detrimental to them. The people who run them are cunning like the fox. They have resources at their disposal which enables them to do massive advertising (mostly from the outrageous fees they charge their students). In a way they are a lot like a goldfish in a bowl. They will consume every bit of food they can whether they need it or not. In some cases they will even eat themselves to death. Other times they will eat until they become so large the bowl they live in will not contain them.

The rabbit in the story is not running for something as petty as a meal. That, to him at this point, is a material gain. No, the rabbit is running to stay alive. The rabbit is running because in order to survive he has too.

Karate has been a huge part of my life for a very long time. There was a time when I all but quit. I had gotten a promotion at work. The gym I was teaching classes out of had made unreasonable financial demands from me. At the time I thought the best thing to do was to hang up my gi and obi and walk away. So I did. It actually lasted for about a year and a half. I simply was not myself. It took me a very long time to realize it but I had changed because of the lack of karate in my life. So, I came back and it was like coming home.

I honestly think of karate like air. It is deeply part of me and my life. I am not the same person when I do not have it in my life. It is part of me and I am a part of it. I have very deep rooted beliefs and respect the tradition behind the art of karate. It is truly karate-do to me. I honestly think that is what separates me from the Joe Awesomes (see some of my previous posts on Wear A Tie Or Tie Your Obi). I think that is what makes our dojo so different from the others. It is how we approach what we are doing. We do not treat it as a business. We embrace it as a tradition and a family. It is a part of us, what we do, and who we are. We aren’t merely chasing a meal. We are living.

The fox may catch the rabbit. If he does, inevitably he will have to catch another…and another, and another. If the rabbit escapes, he may or may not have to elude death again from the fox. The point is; the rabbit will live and experience life.


  1. June 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Excellent ! 🙂

  2. June 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    So very pleased you realized how vital karate was to your life–just as I finally did about writing every day!

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