Humility and the Karate Gi
“We’re going to do what, sir?” I asked my Sensei (karate instructor).
“We are going to run around the health club, four laps,” he replied, seemingly unconcerned that this meant all of the students would be running in their Gis (karate uniforms) in front of hundreds, if not thousand of people frequenting the business district of Munster, Indiana.
My brain began to question my need to continue my pursuit of the legendary Black Belt status I had originally been so enthusiastically in search of. “Why can’t we just jog in place here in the dojo (place of practice),” I offered.
“The fresh air will do us good,” Sensei said with a devious little grin evident.
“We could open some doors, sir.”
“We will run outside today, now.”
And with his final command, we headed out of the dojo and onto the side of the busy roads. We ran in a single file line, about fifteen of us. The drivers honked their horns. Some lowered their car windows and yelled “Hiyaaaaaaa!” and other such bad karate movie exclamations. One guy started singing the lyrics to the one hit wonder song Kung Fu Fighting.
I was completely humiliated. I was sure that some of my high school friends had actually seen me running in full karate uniform on that day. Why would Sensei want to make us feel so uncomfortable? Why make his students look like geeks on the street? It took me a little while to fully understand what the lesson was on that day. He was teaching the class all about humility.
Proverbs 22:4 (NIV) says, “Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.”
While I was worried about embarrassment as we pounded the pavement in full uniform, I knew that I was never truly in serious danger. My attitude was full of pride, and as my karate instructor (he’s also a Baptist preacher) was fully aware that a little adjustment was needed.
Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV) calls us to “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
When we can laugh at ourselves and our predicaments, we have a better understanding of how to be humble while living in a world that thrives off of pride and conceit.
The next time are karate class went for a run outside, I ran with a smile on my face, smiling bigger each time the car honks and insults came. I was learning, learning how to have a soul focused on that which builds eternal character.
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