Karate, Storytelling & Life…it’s ALL Art, Baby!

Have you ever wanted to be really good at something? Have you ever worked your tail off getting really good and then worked harder to be great? I’m guessing that for most of you the answer is a resounding, “YES!”.

For me, I want to be good at everything I do, great at the things I love, and truly excel whenever I can. But, as my grandmother still says in my head whenever illusions of grandeur pop up, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” I never knew what that meant growing up.

I do now.

“Seek perfection, and you just might achieve excellence.” Sensei Daniel Schroeder, 9th Dan Okinawan Shorin-Ryu. (center below)

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Sensei Schroeder is my teacher. He has been for the past 22 years. This Saturday, I will test before him for my 5th Dan (5th degree black-belt). Preparing for Saturday’s test is scary, thrilling and exhilarating; it’s also taken continuous training for almost half of my life to get here. I’m happy to say, no matter what happens Saturday, it’s been worth every sweat-filled-muscle-screaming day.

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The physicality of the journey is important. It’s also the most obvious aspect ~ it’s what the outside world sees. Karate is much like writing in that respect (many other respects too ~ the corollaries abound). The outside world sees the finished book and the author is judged on the product of her work…Does the cover grab the reader…Do the characters resonate long after the last line…Is the plot compelling…Is the writing fresh…?

These judgments are made of the finished product ~ the book ~ and rightly so as this is what the reader sees.

What is NOT seen in Karate or in Writing (and yes here I believe writers earn the capital “W”) is the blood and guts and sweat of the process. That is where the soul lies, in the pursuit of perfection. That is also the personal, spiritual journey.

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Karate is physical, mental and spiritual. So is writing. All three aspects of the art need to be present in order to form a harmonious and fluid whole. Physically we produce a product. To produce a great physical product, mentally we have to make it so. Mental discipline keeps bottoms in chairs and fingers tapping out words. Without mental discipline the practice and the product wouldn’t happen. The mental aspect of writing also involves research and craft. Both can be learned and both are necessary for storytellers.

Spirit can’t be taught. It’s not learned. It’s a gift, unique to each of us, given before we take our fist breath and I hope with us after our last. It’s that intangible bit of magic that makes our art sing. Spirit breathes life into everything we do. Writing is real and tugs at our hearts when it taps into our own spirit…when everything else is solid and then the spirit rises up, tails are kicked and names are taken. It’s a beautiful thing, in and out of print. πŸ™‚

So, as I gear up to release my fourth book (DEFENDING DESTINY) and as I kick my training up a notch or ten in anticipation of Saturday’s test, my heart is pounding, my throat is dry and I’m focusing on what I can control on these paths I’ve chosen.

IΒ can control how hard I work. I can strive for perfection with each new chapter and be satisfied with excellence. I can take a breath and enjoy the journey along the way. No matter what happens on Saturday…no matter what happens onΒ Defending Destiny’s release day…the journey so far has been worth the trip. And the day after…well then, I’ll get back to work!

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It’s taken 22 years to prepare me for Saturday’s test. So far, it’s taken three years for me to release four books. I can’t wait to see where my writing path to perfection (hoping for some bits of greatness) leads me in 18 years. One thing I do know, is that when I hit 22 years as an author, I’ll still be training in Karate and weapons! Hopefully with a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, all three of these arts.

So, my friends, no matter what your journey is, may you seek perfection, find excellence and enjoy the rollicking waves of life along the way. Peace be the Journey!Β  πŸ™‚

Leigh.

(Leigh Morgan writes sensual, sassy romance with a kick! Her Warrior series features authentic martial arts scenes. Come laugh, love and spar with Leigh’s quirky characters. Leigh’s book are available at all major e-book retailers including: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple. Look for: SPARRING PARTNERS, FIGHTING FATE, SECOND CHANCES and soon to be released, DEFENDING DESTINY)

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14 Responses to Karate, Storytelling & Life…it’s ALL Art, Baby!

  1. monarisk says:

    What a fantastic post, Leigh. I discovered the beauty of karate when my granddaughter started her lessons at 5. After practicing for three years, four days a week, she’s reached her brown belt. I hope I’ll see her like you one day. I will sure tell her about the fantastic lady who persevered for 22 years. As for writing, I couldn’t agree more as I sit at my computer and struggle with a difficult scene that didn’t come as I wanted.

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    • leighmorgan1 says:

      Thanks, Mona! I hope your granddaughter stays with it; even if as she grows she finds other interests, I hope the good things about martial arts practice stay with her forever. They sure have served me well. I know what you mean about a scene not going as planned…currently I’m re-working several…sigh…I’ve told myself I must be done, up and readable by tax day. πŸ™‚

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  2. Jill James says:

    Wow, I want you by my side in the zombie apocalypse. πŸ™‚ It was wonderful to read your post about all the work outsiders don’t see that lead to what they do get to see.

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    • leighmorgan1 says:

      Thanks Jill! Do zombies die when you take them down? I could always stake them with my sais, I suppose ;). I’m constantly amazed at how much information, research and words writers toss out of a manuscript before the first edit is complete. Readers can finish a story and say, “Okay, that was great….where’s the next one?” That’s wonderful to hear, but it takes time, sweat and hard work to create something easy to read and hard to put down. I’m not sure it will ever get easier, but I hope to constantly get better at it as I go. πŸ™‚ Hey, if you’re going to RT, look me up…I’m doing a session of female fight scenes and I’d love to throw some defense against zombies into the mix!

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  3. Tori Scott says:

    I’m impressed! Good luck on Saturday. I hope you reach that goal.

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  4. JoanReeves says:

    Good luck, Leigh. I took Okinawan karate in Okinawa many, many years ago. First week I was black and blue everywhere on my arms. Ouch. What an experience.

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    • leighmorgan1 says:

      Dear Joan, it’s always good to be moving, especially in a dojo. I’m usually shades of black and blue, it’s just part of the gig. Did you train with Master Shugoro Nakazato when you were on Okinawa? He’s still teaching at 93 and has been training since he was 16. Now that’s something to aspire to :). My Sensei has been teaching for over forty years and he’s out there with us (kicking tail) every day! Pretty wonderful role models :). I know how I want to be when I grow up. Thank you for your well wishes and support. I’ll take every bit of good juju I can get.

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  5. What a strong and inspiring message, Leigh! I, too, work hard every day, trying to do the best I can with the amount of time I’m given. At times it is exhilarating and stressful to say the least. But when you finally do reach a particular goal of yours, through all of the struggle and heartache to get there, it truly is rewarding. I really like the quote “seek perfection and you just might achieve excellence”. This is so true, because no one is perfect. Nothing in nature is perfect. Things weren’t meant to be perfect, but it’s when we strive to be that we truly succeed and can make almost anything we desire a possibility. I wish you the best of luck on your 5th Dan test tomorrow. You’ve already achieved the excellence, and that’s something to be so proud of. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the post Leigh!

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  6. leighmorgan1 says:

    Thanks for your well wishes, Hope. I’ll be happy with really good πŸ™‚ It’s just hard to hit if that goal if I’m not striving for something more. Thanks for visiting. πŸ™‚

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