Gaman (我慢) to suffer the success

Ostensibly, Gaman emphasizes the importance of perseverance and endurance and the ability to endure hardship with dignity and grace. This mindset encourages individuals to persist through challenges and setbacks, rather than giving up.

But there are other forms of Gaman.

Gaman in everyday life.

Imagine that you need milk, so you go to the grocery store to pick some up. When you get to the dairy aisle you see that there are dozens of options. These days, not only do you have to make a decision on the percentage of fat you want (1%, 2%, skim, etc.), but also what source you want your milk to be coming from: cows, almonds, soybeans, oats…the list goes on. Almost dumbfounded, you stand in front of the aisle and have no idea what milk to pick. There are so many choices that you are overwhelmed. You pick one and, on the way, home you think ‘maybe I choose incorrectly’. But you think ‘well it’s still good enough’ but every-time you take sip you think, ‘I bought this, so I will drink this’. After all isn’t good enough… good enough?

Paradox of choice, or why more is actually less.

Choice overload is when given more options to choose from, people tend to have a harder time deciding and are less satisfied with their choice and more likely to experience regret. ‘If I only I held out for the next best thing.’

Gaman in martial arts.

When I started, way back when… before the internet or even Yellow Pages (it was a huge book that you kept by your rotary phone… never mind, too difficult to explain). Finding a dojo was a monumental effort. Word of mouth, and ‘I know a guy’ was our only possibility. No reviews, Yelp or Google…  It wasn’t about what I choose, but who will accept me. Due to the fact that we had so much less, we gave so much more to the effort. It wasn’t, ‘I want to do Judo, or Karate’, it was more about ‘what was available for me’. “Does an individual choose an art, or does the art chooses the individual?”.

Today, choices are overwhelming. Many will ‘try’ 3 or 4 martial arts within a short period of time. Often overestimating their skill and acquired knowledge. They will consume a little and move on. Some people knowingly claim expertise they don’t have. Others aren’t aware of their deficiencies. The Dunning-Kruger effect; highlights how those with the least knowledge are also the least capable of recognizing their shortcomings, and believe their cursory knowledge is actually expertise.

Respectfully stick to what you truly know. No regrets. Channel your emotions into the effort. Make your discipline and life a work of art. That is Gaman in action.

Gaman-shiteru (be patient), and Gambatte (do your best) ~C.Borkowski

Note: this blog was inspired by a conversion Marian Manzo and I had with Roshi Kunitomo Noriyaki, senior Zen monk at the Tenryuji temple in Kyoto.