This post is important.
If you want to buy something, there will be someone willing to sell it to you. That is pretty straightforward.
Here is the twist. The person who wants to sell something, will do things to make you want to buy it. That is called marketing. Again, this is pretty straightforward.
But here is the catch. The people who market things are pretty sophisticated. They prey on your emotions and feelings.
Why drink beer? Because it will make you popular and hot women will like you.
Why smoke? Same answer.
Why drive expensive sports cars? Same answer.
Your wife will love you more if you give her a big diamond ring. She'll love you even more if you give her a diamond necklace too.
Every day, all day, we are bombarded by messages, some subtle and some not so subtle, designed to make us want to buy things.
Karate. The same applies.
You need to buy this special Karate gi because it will make you popular and hot women will like you. OK, well maybe that is not quite right. But if you buy this gi you will look legitimate and skilled because only legitimate and skilled people wear it.
You need to be certified by such and such association so that you will be legitimate and people will respect you.
You need this special title -- same reason.
You need to join this certain dojo because only the winners go there.
You need to enter tournaments (and spend time and money doing so) because it will make you a winner, legitimate, respected, etc.
It goes on and on. Day after day, all the time.
If you want to buy something, there will be someone willing to sell it to you. The person who wants to sell something, will do things to make you want to buy it.
If you need something, you need to buy it. There is nothing wrong with that. I buy things all the time. But you should ask yourself, "Why do I need this and why do I want this particular product... what do I expect to get by buying it?"
You need to examine your motivations. Are you buying it because you need it or because someone has made you think that you need it? This is hard.
In Karate, you have to ask why you are doing what you are doing and buying what you are buying. We know why people sell, but do we know why we buy?
If you join this dojo, you will be a winner because the head instructor won a big tournament many years ago. OK, we all want to be winners, right? But can you go back in time and win the same tournament? Can you expect to win tournaments today? And if you do, will that make you a winner? What if the head instructor is also a drunk, drug addict, philanderer, liar, cheat...? Do you want to be those things too, or just a winner? A winner of what?
You can take almost any aspect of Karate and there will be a possible buy/sell aspect to it. In some ways you cannot help it -- but you can be clear about it. You can be clear about why you are doing things.
There are people who want to sell Karate things. There are also many fine, dedicated and sincere Sensei who teach out of the kindness of their hearts and charge only a reasonable tuition. They are not trying to sell anything -- it seems more like they are giving it away. Business is a necessity. There is nothing wrong with it. But there is a big difference between selling good medicine and snake oil (kids: in the old days, traveling salesmen would sell snake oil as a cure for all ills).
Again, if you want to buy something that is entirely up to you. I buy lots of things. What I am saying is that you should be clear about why you are buying it. You should be clear about the marketing that might have influenced your purchase. You should make sure that you are doing what you want to do based on a rational assessment of the product and its value to you.
How much is a dojo license worth to you? How much is a dan certificate worth to you. How much is a pair of sai worth to you? What are your expectations about purchasing these items? Will they make you better somehow? If so, how?'
How, why? Ask yourself questions. Try to be aware of the marketing that has been directed toward you.
Charles C. Goodin
This post is important.
Posted by Charles C. Goodin on Wednesday, December 09, 2009