A New Dawn

When darkness surrounds you,

Like it’s all you know,

Remember even in the darkest part of the night,

When the blackness spreads,

And fear encompasses your heart,

Remember,

You are not alone,

Just look up into that blackness,

You’ll see billions of billions of stars,

Shining high in the sky,

Watching down over you,

There is always light in the heart of darkness,

You are not truly alone,

You have no need to fear,

Remember that the night doesn’t last forever,

A new dawn will come,

The sun our closest star,

And our closest friend,

Will be willing to help guide your way,

The new dawn will rise slowly in the sky,

Brightening the world,

Washing away the darkness for the day,

Bringing beauty and hope,

All you have to do is let it rinse the blackness away,

And even though it will only last for a day,

Don’t be sad to see the sunset,

For without the darkness,

You can’t appreciate the light,

And even though the darkness will come,

There will always be a new dawn,

There will always be hope,

Let today become your new dawn

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Zen, in between moments

Zen of the mind,

Peace of the body,

Tranquility of the soul,

Even if its only for a moment,

Between all the madness and chaos,

That life can be,

Pause for a moment,

Just for a moment,

Between the rush and the madness,

And that feeling like you can’t stop,

That you need to keep going,

Pause for a moment,

Just a moment,

For one moment,

Take your mind away from it all,

And appreciate that within that one moment,

That small moment of peace,

That outside it all,

The trees are growing,

The sun rise is still beautiful,

Life,

That this life that we sometimes take for granted,

Is still around us, 

Surrounding us all,

For a moment,

Just one moment,

One simple moment, realise that you can find your zen,

A moment between moments,

Find that peace,

That stillness,

That calmness that is within us all,

No matter where you are,

At work or home,

In a Chaotic City,

or even in the humble countryside,

Breathe in,

And still the mind,

Feel a gentle numbness,

That feels like it’s Massaging your mind,

A soft warm glow in between your eyes,

Still your mind,

Close your eyes,

And enjoy

For that one beautiful moment,

Find your zen,

Your peace,

Your calmness,

And realise that you can find your Zen,

Even if your life is busy,

And sometimes a little bit hectic,

That Zen is within our grasp,

In between moments.

My karate Journey, and a rather long post

Everyone’s journey into the marital arts is a fantastic journey, some are short while others last a lifetime. It has taken me a long time to get to this point of realisation, but it’s not the destination it’s the journey that matters. Cliche I know, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’ll warn you now, this is a long post, read so at your peril! 
Marital arts, through the style of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate, within the association of DKK has from the moment I first walked into the doors of the dojo became my way of life. I have tried many martial arts (about 17, including three I studied in China), but through DKK I have faced some of my biggest fears and challenges. Facing these fears and challenges has instilled this dedication and perseverance, that has enabled me to reach for dreams I would of once thought impossible.

Goju Ryu karate has enabled me to survive the storms of life, to where life could have beaten me, karate pushed me beyond my limits to become stronger. A lot of my most personal accomplishments have been when I have had to overcome life outside of karate.

DKK is a hard club, and I love that about it not out of a sense of toughness, but that to push yourself and test your abilities in that environment gives you a sense of self belief, that what you are learning works. That if you have to defend yourself that you have not only the ability but the confidence to do so.
When I entered the dojo, I was 21, tried and gave up jitsu, was an outcast from uni, and from what I felt life. It was the first place I met outside of my old school friends people like me, slightly odd with a peculiar sense of humour. It was the first time I felt fear, fear that I would on instinct run away from as I had many times in my life. It was the first time that I decided to confront it, I saw the kata and saw the beautiful connection of what they could actually mean. 
I showed them dedication but practicing religiously over xmas, and in March did my first grading, a shock and where I went to 8kyu.

The first big test is the green belt (5th kyu), where you get badged into the association. It was September, I was 22 years old and an angry young man. Sanchin testing, and a harsh test I had never known before, it helped to humble me, and made me want to train even harder. It was at this time I started to make friends in karate. I had made a few in jitsu before I started karate, but they left and I found it hard to keep training. I decided I was going to train for myself. Friendship outside of my old school friends was a huge suprise, people with the same passion, similar age and being slightly nuts made a huge difference to me as a young man. I had found my home.
I went through a big depression at 23, I failed uni, I felt like I failed so much of my life up to that point. I stopped training for three months at my worst. I was in a dark place. My mum forced me to return, to grade to Brown belt (3rd kyu), I didn’t have a lot of time and was in shock my sensei allowed me to grade. Before my depression I was always really fit, and strong with weight training. I had let myself go, the first time in my adult life. I was a chubby teenager, and it was my father who helped me not only get fit, but have a huge passion for it to have a dedication to being as Strong and fit as I could be.

I was not at my best, but I knew my stuff religiously. It was my worst grading ever. I am someone with a lot of passion, a huge flame burning bright inside of me. I had lost it, and it took half way through the grading for an ember to final return after months of absence. I thought I failed the grade. I’m not ashamed to say I cried in the toilets. I decided to face failure like a man. I was in shock that I passed. Technically I knew I all my stuff. I didn’t feel like I deserved the belt. I had to train harder to feel like I deserved it.

I never thought I would ever achieve anything I dreamt about. But an opportunity came when I was 24 to train in China. A mate of mine was going, and with my mum’s help I was getting ready to live a dream. I had a mixture of factory work and unemployment since I officially left uni. My family didn’t think I could survive in China, it hurt that they didn’t believe I could cope on my own. China was one of the best periods of my life. One of my best friends said when people need a break they take a break, when you take a break you find a new way to train more.
I met like minded people, passionate about martial arts, similar age. We trained hard and partied harder. In a way it was the experience Uni life should have been for me. I actually fitted in, I wasn’t in a dark place, my inner black dog didn’t turn up and I wasn’t depressed. I was for the first time whole. I trained in shaolin for a week, bajiquan my last week. But most of my time was learning white crane, the style that influenced  the early development of Goju Ryu in the early 20th century. I not only survived, I thrived those four months in China. Three months of solid training, then I went backpacking with a close friend I made out there. I was a strong person, I believed in life being an adventure. I was whole. I finally felt like I earned my brown belt. I lost a lot of weight, and the pure physical strength for my size, I was quick, with excellent sticky hands but not enough experience being so small.

At 27, after two years of brown and shodan ho gradings, I was ready to face my shodan. The full blackbelt grade. In that time I spent what felt like an eternity in unemployment hell, to an apprenticeship in swim teaching which helped me grow as a person outside of karate, to make new friends. Karate was my driving force in life to keep going, I couldn’t go travelling, I felt trapped. Karate was all I had. Through a grueling long weekend, I achieved it, the dream of a lifetime. Despite all the set backs, I actually achieved what I dreamed about for years. I wasn’t a failure in something. It gave a new confidence in myself, enough to get myself a girlfriend.
Life challenged me again when I was 28, my girlfriend was trying to change me, get me to move away from my father (who is 89, 59 years older than me), who in that year had a few health problems. I tried our little DKK tournament, and faced one of the best fighters in our association. I shocked everyone, especially myself that even though I lost, I did very well against him. I didn’t realise but that was the start of my next martial goal and destination.
At the age of 29, I had trained like a caveman, relishing in being almost like a professional fighter in my approach. I hadn’t drunk alcohol in 9 months, trained twice a day. I had accepted that my club could sometimes be like a cult, and dived straight into it. I was myself, passionate and hungry for the challenge. It was meant to be a lonely journey, but I felt so connected to the club, everyone was cheering me on, they were my family. They were there for me in my peak as a martial artist. I had found some true friends, forming our own clique within the club. The DKK Hounds. To achieve my second Dan, I had to face the 30 man kumite. Facing 30 of the top fighters in our association. I had this chip on my shoulder, where I felt people kept putting me down in life. In this case, I was just a brawler. I was going to prove them wrong, train to fight like I knew I had the potential to be. Do it for my father watching in the crowd. It was one of my favourite moments in life, everything was perfect, I even found love that weekend.
When I was 30 late summer, I decided to go outside my comfort zone and train for the British kyokushin karate tournament as an amateur middleweight. Like the 30 man it was another martial artist challenge that I thought was impossible, equally terrifying. Yet I had to face it to prove to myself that I could become more than I felt I was.  I had bulked up to 14 stone for my nidan the previous year. I had to drop 10kg in six weeks to be at fighting weight, in a full contact style. This was another grueling challenge, I still kept up with my heavy weight training to keep as strong as I could at a smaller weight. I was going to evolve, focus on precision and accuracy. Alas life loves to challenge you, a man with a broken heart is a very dangerous man. Unlike my depression when my fire was virtually depleted, it became an all consuming inferno. An anger I hadn’t felt in years. It’s flames wanted to scorch me, it was like I could see flames. It was really hard to control that within me. I didn’t fight how I wanted to, I won my division being the larger and more aggressive fighter. But the finesse I acquired for my 30 man was all none existent. But I had achieved a karate goal, that I didn’t believe could be possible. I won a kyokushin tournament.
The tournament was like another rebirth for me. I didn’t fight my best, but I did the best I could on that day facing the fear of the unknown. It ignited the old me, forging a new stronger me. I decided to stay lean, but rebuild my body to be lean and mean for martial arts, I focused on creating a very strong core and being as flexible as I could. This with trying a new mindset to evolve into how I wanted to fight, has lead me to becoming a head kicker. Something else I thought impossible and something else that I’ve had to prove that I can do the impossible.

To me these are all great moments, and my karate journey is only just beginning. To those who aspire to be more than they think they are, don’t give up and embrace the journey for that is the real destination.

Storm of the Mind

The storm of the mind,

Runs wild with the time,

Thundering loud and proud,

No time to rest,

Everything is at a fast pace,

Like that of lightening,

This storm is brewing,

Growling deeper and deeper,

No place to run,

And no where to hide,

This storm that’s been brewing,

Deep and dark inside of you,

It won’t let you out,

Like a cat that has caught a mouse,

Who is there to save you,

Lost within the storm,

That is crashing down,

On this little tiny island,

That is your only haven,

You scream for help,

But no one can hear you,

Inside the storm that is your mind,

That’s when you need to realise,

That in your darkest of moments,

You are your own saviour,

You are your light,

You don’t need help,

You can be your own hero,

This is just all in your head,

The storm is still thundering down On top of you,

Wanting to wash you away,

Remember it’s all in your mind,

You can fight this storm,

You force the thunderous noise to dim,

You face the storm, 

And slowly stand up on your own two feet, 

Ready to face the storm,

The storm that wants to wash you away,

You are the lightening bolt,

Your will is strong,

You have already survived the harshest part of the storm,

You will shine as bright as any star,

This is all in your mind,

You quieten the thunder,

To a slow whimper,

The harsh winds becoming a gentle breeze,

You stand still and watch,

As the storm slowly passes away,

You stand tall and proud,

As the tiny island expands,

Into a lush green tropical paradise,

The breeze is gentle upon your skin,

Remember it is all in your mind,

You were the storm,

But now are the breeze,

You are your own saviour

The late Fall

Seeing the autumn leaves, 
That cover the trees,

With various stages of green, red, orange, yellow and brown,

I use to feel sad,

When I would look at the autumn leaves, 

For it was when the end of summer,

With laughter and happiness,

Greenness and full of energy,

And the onset of the dreaded cold winter,

When the trees would look dead,

Like skeletons hiding in the harshness of time,

Waiting for the freshness of spring to bring in a new lease of life,

With its potential if what those budding heads could become,

The autumn leaves,

Have come late this year,

And rather than seeming like the beginning of the end,

The various colours seem to be much more vibrant,

And full of life,

A new appreciation of this kind of season,

Its not the end,

but at it’s peak,

How curious that the closest to its end,

It seems to so much brighter,

So much more full of life,

Like the peak of a boxer,

When a wine is matured to perfection,

This is the lime light for the leaves, 

Come a beautiful autumn day.

As I watch the little flame burn

The burning embers of a dying fire,

So dim from a far,

Especially when the world is ajar,

But when you no longer turn your back,

And come closer,

The light is brighter than a rising sun,

Dancing eerily across the burning log,

How could such a small flame cast so much light,

Heat from this most naked of dancers,

It Radiates upon my face,

Deep into my soul,

Touching my face like a long lost lover,

The smell of smoked wood softly brushes my senses,

How can something so soft and gentle,

Become the most deadly of foes,

When passion is all out of control,

The difference being respect,

Respect the very nature of what it’s natural being is,

Respect for what it is and what it could become,

There is no reason this little fire ever need to go out,

As I watch this enchanted dancer,

I realise that it isn’t the log that will feed it’s flames to last longer,

The flame is much deeper than that,

It surrounds us all,

It burns deep within,

This little flame is a reflection of our own souls,

Fires that have the potential to last forever more.

Stillness of breath

Focus on breath,

Breathing in and out,

Breathing in the fresh cool air, 

Breathing out the heavy toxins,

Breathing in peace and harmony,

Breathing out the heavy burden of life,

Let the breath still the mind,

The mind full of the madness of life,

Let the breath still the mind,

Quieting the noise,

Quieting the chaos,

With every breath let go,

Let go the stress,

The burden upon your shoulders,

Let the breath still the mind,

Find that peace,

In between the breath,

The stillness,

The calm,

Be one with the calmness,

One with your peace