Kenichi Sucks At Everything…But You Don’t Have To!
When we begin the story of "History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi," young Shirahama Kenichi is extremely weak and fairly cowardly. He's constantly getting bullied and, while he is trying to move up in the world, he's not having much success in doing so, instead being kicked back down. Even reminded by a classmate that he's rather unremarkable in just about everything that he does. Kenichi sucks at just about everything.
It appears that Kenichi's goal of becoming more than he was in Middle School is something of a pipe dream. Scheduled to be beaten up by a teenage karateka, Kenichi has zero hope of victory. However, that is until he comes across the Furinji Miu, a beautiful, acrobat, fierce martial artist.
Miu introduces Kenichi to a hellish world of training from the Masters of Ryouzanpaku and he begins a long journey toward gaining strength: day by day, rep by rep. Kenichi's training isn't easy, by any means, but he's also just not very good at much. His Masters are quick to remind him that he doesn't have any talent and that he's going to have to make up for that with effort. They start him with a very simple training routine to fix one of his biggest issues. He's called "Weak Legs" by his peers and his Masters set out to completely demolish that moniker.
Ryouzanpaku's Fundamental Training
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- Run 2.5 Miles
- Horse Stance with Gripping Jars- 5 Minutes Total (Empty Jars)
- Lunge Steps- 100 Steps Total
- Moving with Gripping Jars- 50 Yards
If you'd like details about this workout or you would like to see how to increase the difficulty of the exercises, watch the video above. This post is not about this workout, however, it is about the ideas espoused within it. There are three things that you can take away from the beginning of Kenichi's training with the Masters of Ryouzanpaku and these are things that you can use to further your own training and even push yourself to higher places in your own life. How can we NOT SUCK at things?
- Accept yourself as you are. You cannot change or become more than you are now until you accept your current position. It was not until Kenichi recognized that he had shortcomings that he was finally able to work on those failings. He could not begin to overcome his cowardice until he confronted it with a band of street thugs and an overgrown bully of a Karate fighter. That did not mean that he was no longer afraid. Conquering your personal weaknesses are a long and difficult road that requires you to recommit to that path on a daily basis.
It is easy to slip back into old habits if you are not constantly seeking to re-write the mental framework that created your shortcomings in the first place. One day, your old ways will be like a forgotten memory, but while you are confronting them on the battlefield of your mind, you will have good days and you will have bad days. The good days will seem like you're unstoppable and there was never any doubt you would succeed, but the bad days will make you feel like you haven't changed at all. Focus on the process and always look at yourself as you are now, because that is the only way that you'll be able to understand what you need to address to move forward. To quote Jake, the Dog from "Adventure Time," "Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something."
- Do not scoff at qualified instruction. There are things you don't know. (Okay, there are a LOT of things you don't know) There are things you don't know that will make you a better, stronger, and smarter person. If you have the opportunity to soak up the knowledge of an experienced, educated person who is willing to teach you, I will give you a piece of very important advice: Listen to that person. It is always good to learn from your own experience, but there is nothing like being instructed by a person who has the experience that you so desperately need beaten into their very soul.
Kenichi needed strength; strength of mind, body, and character and the Masters of Ryouzanpaku each had their own physical, mental, and personal wisdom to pass down to their disciple-- especially when it came to martial arts and fighting-- but also in regards to dealing with growing up and becoming a better person. These Masters earned their wisdom through their own personal experiences and were qualified to instruct Kenichi on a variety of things (even if their advice wasn't always polite-- I'm looking at you, Sakaki), because the kind of life that Kenichi was trying to live as a martial artist was the kind of life they had lived and continue to live everyday. If you have a trainer, doctor, therapist, or a coach explaining things about an area of expertise they possess and which you are trying to be apart of, it is very important that you try to absorb that information, because whatever topic they are explaining to you frequently contains both the information you knew you needed (about a problem with your health, training, or whatever else) and information that you didn't realize you needed (about life, as it relates to the life you are trying to live).
- Hard work overcomes weakness. You may have an area of your life at which you are absolutely dismal. I really identify with Kenichi and his "Weak Legs." For myself, I've never been a good squatter. I've got a weird hip imbalance that has always made it difficult for me to do high reps or heavy weight and, because of that, I frequently neglected squatting as a teenager and into my early twenties. However, at some point, I just got tired of not being able to do it well, so I practiced as much as I could. I started with Hindu Squats and Sumo Squats because they were easier for me and then I started trying to squat conventionally, but it ended up looking like some sort of awkward squat-good morning hybrid. However, I kept grinding and researching and learning and eventually I got to the point where I can regularly squat "ass to grass," as they say (who the hell are "they?). It was honestly quite humbling, because the number of times I got to 315# on my squat before having to start over from scratch with my form started to drive me crazy. But it's okay-- eventually, if you keep moving forward, you get where you're trying to go.
It was the same with Kenichi. He began moving forward little by little with various types of daily training, until he was able, through constant grinding and micro-improvements, to turn his "weak legs" into powerful weapons that could land amazingly strong kicks, support incredible weight, and stabilize him for using amazing strikes and throws. It is important to work on your strengths, as well, since your strengths are the things that you will see the most improvement in with the least effort, but fixing your weaknesses is an investment that will pay great dividends in whatever you are trying to do. For example, if a bodybuilder has naturally small legs, it may take a lot of extra work to increase the size of his legs, but if he doesn't do it because it would take more work and he doesn't improve as quickly, then he'll end up with a massive upper body and disproportionate legs that will never get him the win on stage.
Fixing your weaknesses may not win you any trophies on their own, but by doing so you will be able to keep them from becoming stumbling-blocks on your journey to success.
In whatever chosen path you take, remember that it is possible for you to get better and to succeed! In your own training, remember that it is a long road and you have to be committed to the process of acknowledging where you are to move forward, be open to being instructed by those who know more than you or have more experience, and don't shy away from hard work, especially hard work in the things that are naturally difficult for you.
That's all for today! Until next time, good luck and train hard!