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I now have 2.5 year old twins. We have never said grace as we aren't particularly religious, but as I'm a Karate geek (I'm not using the term 'nerd'), I've introduced the word itadakimasu at meal times. Surprisingly, they now say it before every meals, which makes me a very proud Dad.

If you haven't heard the word itadakimasu, I wouldn't be surprised. The only reason I know it is because I did a crash course in Japanese before we set out on our epic adventure to New Zealand followed by Japan and 'the birth place of karate' Okinawa.

Translated, itadakimasu means "I humbly receive". It's normally said before a meal, and is basically thinking about where the food actually came from. Which (if any) animal was sacrificed, who helped transport it and prepare it, who actually made the meal, basically all the people that were involved in you enjoying that meal.

Some might liken it to onegaishimasu, but that is altogether different. Itadakimasu, is used before receiving something, normally food.

This got me thinking - we should be grateful for not only the knowledge our instructors have to share, but how we got there, who introduced you to Karate? How did you get to the dojo? Where is your gi from? Who is your Sensei, and who was/is their sensei's? We have so much to be thankful for when it comes to training. It doesn't stop at training either. As Gichin Funakoshi says in the 20 precepts, Karate goes beyond the dojo.

I humbly receive the knowledge you have to share

When we train, it's not just ourselves that are doing karate. Within our own training are all the instructors / masters that have come before us. Each instructor has shared their knowledge with their students, who in turn have become instructors and shared their knowledge with their students. Every time we step into the dojo, it's this that we should be thankful for.

Perhaps if we went into every karate class, every school class, every encounter with this mindset, we would experience and gain so much more from life.


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