You are walking down the street and spy a penny on the ground. Do you pick it up? There are some that might say, ‘A penny is worthless, you can’t even buy anything with a nickel anymore.’ That is of course correct. Others might say, ‘If you put enough little steps together you can walk across America. Similarly if you save your pennies you will build a nice nest egg.’ And that too is right. Of course if you are in a store getting some small thing – having that penny for exact change is handy.

A young man was walking thru is father’s farm and he saw some black gunk oozing from the ground. Worthless, nasty stuff, especially in the 1800’s. This young fella decided to find a use for this worthless, nasty, black stuff – oil, petroleum. Worthless stuff made him a fortune.

I think you get the idea that what we call worthless often says more about we see in an object than its actual value. People are not different. Miyamoto Musashi did not dress well, was untidy and did not bathe. He was, at first appearance, worthless as a warrior by the standards of the day. Yet, quite the opposite was true.

When I was coaching swimming in Alaska, I got to see hundreds of athletes change both in terms of skill and as people. There was young 13-year-old girl who wanted to join our team. She was known as a clown. Never working hard, always goofing. Many parents felt like ‘Why do we want her’. She joined the team and fit in well. She learned from the focused, dedicated and yet enjoyable team we had. She went from not qualifying for the state meet to making Junior Nationals. She just needed the opportunity to be around strong committed athletes who wouldn’t take her goofing around. She would come on the team and make it or she would have to leave – there was really no alternative. So she made it.

So what does this have to do with you? I hope it is a reminder to see the world around you with a little more interest, a little more seeing the potential beneath the surface of things – clarity of vision. I hope from a martial arts perspective you are reminded that every drill, every kata, every throw, every technique has its place. To think this style of martial arts is the best or better or you need to be this way or that or you – sorry, it just ain’t so. There are many paths to the top of the mountain. There have been many martial fads and many dogmas about ‘The Best’. Many have offered secret teachings or magic or real combative applications or no holds barred full contact… you get the idea. It just isn’t so. See their limited scope or vision for what it is. You train to what you are working to the best of you abilities. Consistent sustained effort both in the dojo and in your personal practice – this will make you good.

When you are in the bright sunlight a candle seems worthless – but in a cave it can save your life. In competitions or demonstrations, some waza are very eye catching but the