FISH LIKE A WHITE BELT

16 May

There is a Karate-Do maxim, “Observe with the mind of a white belt.” The white belt worn by novice students is said to symbolize purity and innocence in terms of preconceptions as to Karate. (See Endnote # 1). When a novice first enters the Dojo, the fledgling observes without preconceived thought or emotion. Thus, one observes every detail, even the most minute, with the pure eyes of a child. In doing so, the neophyte student is able to capture the inner most aspect of a Karate-Do technique and incorporate it into their personal repertoire.

Prior to the advent of modern colored belts, a Karate-Ka (practitioner of Karate) would wear the same belt (a white belt) during his entire training. Although the Karate gi (uniform) would be laundered regularly, as a sign of respect, the Karate-Ka would not wash his belt. Over time, the white belt would become soiled. The belt would even be used to wipe the sweat from one’s brow after training. Thus, the belt would grow discolored, eventually turning black from use and wear.

As the student continued to wear his, now black, belt, it would begin to fray and tear. In this manner, over the course  of many years, the outermost layer of fabric would often be shed. Through this shedding process, the inner layer of clean, white fabric would be revealed. Thus, a circle of training would be completed; from pure white to soiled black and again to pure white. This return to a white-belt-like appearance of the black belt is the highest, most treasured belt a Karate-ka can possess. Having earned various formal black belts denoting advanced black belt ranks, I can attest to the fact that none have the endearing quality of my black belt which is now a grayish white from having been worn for decades.

The phenomenon of the pure white to becoming a soiled black belt is emblematic of the fishing experience. Recall the child-like amazement that we all had during our earliest fishing experience. The sights, smells, sounds and feel of being out in nature. The thrill of catching a fish and the desire to repeat the thrill enraptured us so as to demand our fullest attention. As a novice fisherman, we carefully selected a lure, bait or fly. Each live bait, whether worm, cricket, shad or other bait was inspected for “freshness”, “liveliness”, etc. Each lure was inspected to make sure there were no defects in the paint, the right color, size and shape was considered, hook sharpness was assured and the like. Young fly fisherman agonized over the choice of general fly pattern and then debated the size of the fly finally inspecting the specific fly to insure the feather were pristine, the hook sharp and the like.

Once a lure was selected, the knot was carefully tied and tested. Finally, the youthful, novice, white belt, fisherman was ready to cast the selection into the unknown waters in hopes of attracting a fish.

With time and experience, the white belt fisherman gained knowledge, experience and confidence in his or her ability to attract and catch fish. With this experience, the symbolic white belt of the fisherman, turned black.  At this stage, the black belt fisherman gets a bit sloppy from his or her experience. Perhaps a bait, lure or fly is selected because he or she simply knows it will catch a fish. Even one’s choice of fishing location becomes a function of experience. After all, “Surely this location holds fish at this time of year and day.”

I suggest, that based upon the “Mind of a white belt”, to maximize fishing results and the fishing experience in general, a fisherman needs to return to the mind set of a white belt, novice each and every time he or she is on the water.

By way of example you may wish to:

  • Choose your fishing location based upon experience, but pay close attention to what specific conditions are telling you;
  • Choose your lure, bait or fly not based upon YOUR expectations, but based upon what nature is TELLING you; to wit: are bait (worms, shad or other prey fish), forage (shrimp, crayfish, etc) or insects present?;
  • Notice each and every detail of the surrounding environment; are there indications of fish present at other locations that warrant a move?:

To be sure the above list is not inclusive but provides you with the general idea that, while experience is invaluable, remember to shed preconceptions. Allow your fishing black belt mentality to begin to fray and shed its outer layer. Let your fishing black belt begin again to turn back to white and fish with the mind of a white belt.

In closing, I remain eager to fish and be fulfilled by the experience each and every time I am fortunate enough to be on the water, if that makes me a fishing white belt, then so be it,

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

1. From the Academy Of Goshin-Do Karate-Do student handbook, page 29.

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: