In competitive karate, there are two main things an athlete can compete in. Kata, or kumite.
Kata are the forms that are taught at each belt level. Performing kata is hard, and extremely subjective. I along with every man in my family sucked at kata. Kata is about precision, about the ability to duplicate a result every time, it requires no change based on the opponent because there is no opponent. It is a solo act, based on the imagined threat of someone else. Kata is beautiful in its own way. It takes an immense amount of power and body control to do it well. Its much like a figure skating routine.
Kumite is the point fighting version of the sport. Compared to kata, its a wild thing to watch. Point fighting in karate is a lot like fencing. You have to be first, and not just first, you have to get them with good technique. You have to react fast and perceive threats, and deal with negative situations. Kumite was always my thing. I knew that if I made a mistake, I could come back from it and still win.
In my head, kata is for people who think slow, and kumite is for people who’s brain thinks fast. Both of these are strengths. If you were playing ping pong you need to think fast, if you’re dismantling a bomb you need to think slow. Time and place.
All this is swirling around me because I’ve been thinking a lot about self knowledge. Every person walking around you is a little flawed machine. They all have their production, they all have their breakdowns. Knowing your own machine is the master skill of life.
When you know yourself, you can think bring the best out of yourself.
In my life, this means the proper use of pressure. I can’t do anything without it. Or at least nothing well.
For this and many other reasons, I am a shitty employee, at least long term. But put me in charge of something and I’ll find a way to make it great. This isn’t a control thing, its an ADD thing. If I can rely on others too much, if the roles aren’t clear, if the identity is muddled, the hustle escapes me.
But when its me on the front line, I feel like parts of my brain otherwise untapped come back online and I can push myself.
Putting pressure on yourself gets a bad rap in our culture. But for me, its the only way to achieve things that are currently beyond my grasp. For me, I need external pressure. I need deadlines. I need big goals, I need people outside of my head that will be disappointed or annoyed if I don’t come through. I want to choose the when’s and where’s and who’s, but this is the only way I know to get the room full of voices in my head to go from mob to choir.