This month’s life lesson – cleanliness

Why be clean? Why not try to accomplish whatever goals we want to accomplish as fast as we can all the time? Why take time for such preventative maintenance like cleaning up? And why do we talk about being clean in karate class?

These are all good questions. Let’s talk about this first from the tactical angle. If your room is a cluttered mess, it is going to be harder to accomplish these goals as fast as you can. This is simply a fact. If you are always trying to remember where something is, like, say, your karate uniform, then you are actually going to take longer to find it. There is also the very practical hygienic angle to this. Being unclean is not good for your health in general, and being sick will stop you from almost any goal — like practicing karate.

Now let’s talk about the mental angle of cleanliness. Did you know that the human brain can, on average, remember only 5 to 9 concepts or ideas simultaneously at the same time? This has been tested in multiple studies. This is why phone numbers, without the area code, are 7 digits. The point is that there are certain cognitive limits that we are all born with.

So imagine your cluttered house, your cluttered room, and your cluttered car. Things are not in the last place you left them. So you now need to remember where you left them. At a certain point, you will not be able to remember all of the places due to human nature. Then you are searching and searching and searching, wasting time and losing your mental focus on what matters. A cluttered physical world leads to a cluttered mental state.

Here’s the money line – karate is mostly mental, so a lack of cleanliness will have a direct impact on your ability to train. So please make an effort to maintain cleanliness, even if it is a little at a time. The small improvements will add up over time.

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