Sensei Says…

“A part of self-defense is taking control of your life and assuming responsibility for yourself.”

Our Sensei Emeritus was at practice this evening and pulled me aside to speak with me conceptually about my practice. This one little statement rang eerily relevant for me right now for several reasons. Sensei is very good at that kind of thing. In my attempts  to honor my commitment to both my practices, judo and social work, I often make things unnecessarily difficult, thinking that trying to cram as much work in as possible will lead to improvement and success. On one hand, this frequently becomes true; on the other, I too often burn myself out. Every time I realize than I’m a mere mortal, it’s incredibly disappointing.

In my life, taking the hard route is easy. Taking the easy route is hard. However, strategically taking the easy route here and there will permit me the strength to excel when I head down the hard path. Essentially, I have to become happy with the happy medium.

As the school year kicks off and my internship begins, my sensei’s thoughts also make think of my clients. I work with the “underserved”, who sometimes struggle with feelings of victimization and low self-worth. When compounded w ith socio-economic barriers, they sometimes feel as though it’s either terrifying or impossible to change their lives. While my job is to help people realize they have the strength to help themselves, I may catch clients when they’re not quite ready for such daunting work.

I think this fear still holds true for many of us who are not considered “underserved”. Being honest with yourself and recognizing that change does not come magically, admitting you need help and following through feels too scary. So we stay cemented in place, incapable of moving forward.

It threw me off-guard tonight to realize how much insight my sensei has. It was hard to hear his words because he was throwing some serious truth about myself at me. But it’s just what I needed. It’s time to stop letting my fear of failure and mediocrity drive my actions. Such fear negates the reasons I am drawn to social work and judo to begin with. It’s important to embrace the process, including the set-backs. If I focus on the imaginary finish line and skip over the course itself, my feet will remain stuck in place. I thank my sensei for giving me the sledge hammer I need to break up the cement.


  1. September 13, 2011 at 00:10

    Great post today thanks. I really enjoyed reading it very much.

    Thanks again for posting this.

    Today’s Poem – Raining Purple Rain

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