Last night in the dojo, both the Teen and Adult classes worked on leg kicks and incorporating them into our fight game. At one point I pulled one of the younger, smaller teenagers aside and told them, "right now, with your size, you need to focus on leg kicks against guys like me," and I proceeded to compare leg kicks to chopping down a tree.
The truth is, there is more that connects fighters and lumberjacks than I'd originally thought. As I've reflected over the past few hours, I've come up with three ways that we need to embrace the lumberjack mentality in our training.
Lumberjack Principle #1: Our work is simple. Please don't confuse simple and easy...nothing we do is easy. A leg kick can be incorporated into a complex combination, but once you understand the mechanics involved, the kick itself is simple. I've noticed lately that many folks really overthink things, when in actuality they just need to practice more without arguing.
Lumberjack Principle #2: Our tools are basic. Kyokushin karate is a very practical style. While there are some amazing highlight videos on Youtube, one of my favorite fighters of all time is Hajime Kazumi. Kazumi won a record 5 All Japan tournaments and I don't think he threw any kicks above the waist. Basics, basics, basics. He stressed perfection of the basic punches and his famous gedan mawashi geri (leg kick). So, while jumping, spinning kicks may look cool (and be devastating), the basic tools are just as effective.
Lumberjack Principle #3: Don't go into the woods with a dull ax. Lincoln said it best, "If I had five minutes to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first three sharpening my axe." Our work is simple and our tools are basic, but if we don't continually sharpen those skills and techniques, we will never find our potential. Without sharpened tools, our work becomes less efficient and more dangerous. Imagine having to chop down a tree with a dull ax. You will have to take more swings and you'll likely swing much harder than you would if your ax were sharpened. Same thing with our fighting techniques. If we let our leg kicks become dull, we're going to be more careless. If our punches aren't sharpened, WE are the ones who end up getting injured. We should daily be sharpening our tools. Even for just five minutes...work on your technique.
To chop down a tree efficiently, you need to remember that you're doing a simple job with basic tools that much consistently be sharpened. I don't know about you, but that just sounds like a mentality for success in so many areas!