I just came home from teaching 157 passionate Karate Nerds in Canada.

Teaching biomechanics for Karate

(Photo here.)

During this trip, I attended a local tournament in Quebec.

One dude asked me a cool question:

“Jesse-san, you meet so many great Karate masters, champions and experts during your travels around the world. Tell me – what is the one thing they have in common? What makes them “great”?”

Holy cow…

What a brilliant question!

Nobody had asked me this before. In fact, I had never asked it to myself!

I was equally shocked and impressed.

(The art of asking good questions is something I pride myself on.)

It took a minute to digest the question, but my answer was clear. And I think it’s so important that I decided to share it here.

The one secret all Karate masters have in common is this:

They never stop learning.

They are lifelong students.

This mentality is what has brought them mastery. Not as a direct goal, but as a byproduct of constantly seeking deeper and richer knowledge.

The greatest Karate masters are hungry learners!

They are constantly seeking knowledge.

It’s a growth mindset.

Obviously, this is not exclusive for Karate. The mindset of mastery is the same for everything; whether you’re playing the piano, kicking a football or painting a picture.

This legendary samurai said it best:

“When you see the Way broadly, you see it in everything.”
– Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645)

Get it?

That’s why, when someone calls these people “masters”, they smile on the outside but shudder on the inside.

Because they know it’s a lie…

To others they might be experts, but to themselves, they are still beginners.

They know there’s so much left to learn!

The greatest Karate masters and experts don’t pretend to have all the answers. To them, there’s no such thing.

This is what keeps them so humble.

It’s like I said in this video:

The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.

As a consequence, the greatest masters know that life is too short to not live to its fullest. You need to seize every moment to embrace the curiosities of the world with open arms, constantly ready to reevaluate your understanding of Karate and life.

(Read that again.)

There’s no end to learning.

The journey is the destination.

Once you grasp this concept, Karate becomes more than just kicking and punching.

It becomes an artform.

A Way of Life.