Shoka Magazine April 2023 – Two Opposing Attitudes: ‘Oh No!’… or… ‘Come On!’

Sensei Smilling






Marty Callahan

8th Degree Black Belt

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a  challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” -Carlos Castaneda

It’s late January 2023 we just came back from training with Sensei Edmond Otis, and Sensei Kevin  Warner and the wonderful people down in Riverside. The training was short, intense and eye opening. And on top of that we had a beautiful stay at the Mission Inn a national historical  monument. If you haven’t been there, you’ve got to go, or at the very least visit their website.

Sensei Otis is the Chief Instructor of Shotokan International Alliance and is an unbelievably gifted  instructor. His background as a psychologist gives him a unique perspective on the fine points of  Shotokan Karate training and is a breath of fresh air to martial arts training.

In his classes Sensei Otis talked about the importance of attitude and how Shotokan Karate training was first and foremost about establishing the right attitude.  Shotokan Karate practitioners are recognized around the world for having a very strong attitude towards life.

Sensei Otis explained that standing in natural stance is an important means of developing the right attitude. If your weight is back on your heels then when you are confronted with a dangerous  situation you will be taken by surprise, your response will be, ‘Oh, no!’ and your reaction will be late. This attitude also makes “non-dangerous” things feel dangerous because we feel more hesitant.  And it applies to opportunities. If we live back on our heels then when an opportunity is presented to  us we can’t respond to it quickly enough to take advantage of it.

Whereas if your weight is forward on the balls of your feet you are ready for danger, you want it  because danger is exciting, and your attitude is that if it’s going to happen then let it happen now, or  ‘Come on!’ This is a strong attitude and will allow you to respond quickly and effectively to  dangerous and non-dangerous situations. Sensei Otis explained that weight back and weight  forward also effects how we perceive ourselves and is in effect a walking bio-feedback loop.

This attitude is echoed in the quote from Carlos Castaneda about the difference between a warrior  and an ordinary man. The warrior will see everything as a challenge, whereas the ordinary man  sees things as either a blessing or a curse. This is the attitude of ‘Come On’ being ready for  whatever might appear.

I read all of Castaneda’s books back in the 70s and was fascinated by how his training in  shamanism was similar to the training I was getting in Shotokan Karate. If you’d like more  information on him, Google will tell you just about all you might like to know.


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