We all get and have problems in our lives. I have had my share of them so I can sympathise and empathise with people who are going through a bad time.

When we train at Karate we enter a dojo to do our training. Dojo means “the place of The Way”. The Way refers to a path, like when you ask “Which way leads to the forest?” and it is not meant to be how you do something, like, “Do I do it this way?” This shows us that we are entering upon a journey, and it is a journey that has no ending.

A dojo can be anywhere, usually a rented hall or school gymnasium. But it can be a glade in a forest, or a space on a beach, or even in your own back garden. Wherever you train becomes your dojo.

When we train in a dojo we must concentrate on the Now, not the past, not on what has just happened, or what happened outside of the dojo earlier in the day (or week). I often tell my students to dump their mental baggage outside of the door before they come in and then, if they wish, they can pick it all up again when they leave. But why pick it up again? Surely if you have just completed 2 hours of training where you thought only of what you are doing in the Now you don’t need to pick it up again?

Sue and I were lucky enough to travel to Japan in November 2017. While we were there we went to Kyoto and we visited the Daisen-In Zen Garden. Here we met Mr Ozeki who is a Zen Master. I obtained one of his writings and I was fortunate enough to be able to have a nice talk with him through an interpreter after which he first bowed to me and then he shook my hand which was a great honour.

Master Ozeki explained the importance of being in the Now. If you are constantly worrying about what has happened, or might happen, then you are not in the Now and all of these useless worries build up in us and affect our health, both physical and mental.

The Japanese set great store by their gardens. Everything in their gardens has symbolism and art. This is particularly true with Zen gardens. Some Zen gardens are simply gravel and stones, some are just trees and lawns, some are plants and ponds – but all of them are used as a place for you to sit and think about that rock, or that tree, or that plant and they are not there for you to sit in and worry. They are there for the Now.

So next time that you train leave your worries and problems outside of the dojo, concentrate on your karate, and enjoy just being in the Now.

That is Zen.

Sensei Bill.