Friday, November 25, 2011

Learning and knowledge

Sensei Nishiyama used to tell me: “once you think you know, you are finished, you don’t learn anymore”.

This is the problem of knowledge, once we “know” something it feels old, even dead.

The fact that we can look at every day’s miracles around us, and not be constantly amazed is death.

“Not knowing” is different than ignorance, how do we go about increasing in learning while still maintaining the freshness and sense of wonder?

One idea is to treat each thing we learn as a piece in a larger puzzle that still has missing pieces.

Instead of each thing we learn become another thing we know let it be a reminder of how little we know.

Sensei Nishiyama used to constantly say that in karate “we seek the beauty of one finishing blow technique”, he never stressed doing more techniques and memorizing more combinations, but rather going deeper into each technique. Each technique has limitless levels. Aiko San used to say “treat each technique as a jewel”.

I remember going with Sensei to on of his international seminars, and he was teaching very basic techniques but very deeply, and some students looked very board, and I wanted to scream, please pay attention, you cannot get this information anywhere, don't miss out. Even now she I look at a picture of sensei doing simple reverse punch, I get the feel of how deep his technique was.

If we look at each technique and concept freshly, with amazement, we can keep finding out deeper levels.

With Sensei Nishiyama there was not one week that I did not learn something new or at least get a deeper understanding of things.

I heard this example of a mother and a baby traveling to far places, from the baby point of view they were always at same place, he was in his mother’s arms.

There were many times that Sensei Nishiyama said things that did not make sense to me, but with the years as he kept teaching us in all different ways, I understood where he was taking me.

There are times we need to accept our teacher experience and trust the direction he leads us, but we must be constantly questioning, curious and amazed.


  1. Hello Avi this is realy nice article. As sensei was seying " keep it simple" but meant it to go deep. Thank you JAN

  2. Thank you Avi very much!!! Short, deep and amazing article!