A Passion & Commitment

From a young age onwards Sylvain Goldberg has always been a sport practitioner. He was especially active in karate. You certainly have mental images associated with the practice of this martial art. Let me tell you a bit about this sport.

Karate is predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes. But it is not a game of points, weight classes or showy demonstrations. It is a martial art and way of life that trains it’s practitioner to be peaceful; when struggle is unavoidable, it directs taking down a competitor with a single blow. Such action requires strength, speed, focus, control. The physical aspects are only part of the practice; they are just the vehicle, not the journey itself.

Focus & Control

In true karate, the body, mind and spirit—the whole person—must be developed in concert. The practitioner learns to control his movements. But more importantly, learns to give up control as well. The karateka can perform the techniques without thinking about them, and remains focused without having to concentrate on any one thing. In essence, the body remembers how to move and the mind remembers how to be still. This harmonious unity of mind and body is intensely powerful. Even the greatest physical strength and skill are no match for the power of wholeness.

The result of true karate is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body.


The bridge between goals and accomplishment

Most people want to avoid pain, and discipline is usually painful

Whether fighting or working, my discipline is unforgiving!


My strength lies mostly in my tenacity.

Tenacity to finish the job

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.


Toughen the body, polish the spirit

Mens sana in corpore sano

Practice puts brains in your muscles

Sylvain Goldberg is a black belt karateka

In the realm of martial arts, the karate belts and their colors play a significant role for determining the expertise of the skilled men and women. Since every skill has a ranking of its own, this sport exhibits its ranks in terms of colors associated to the level of their expertise. The most generic belt colors are white and black. White is the symbol of a beginner, depicting the lowest rank. While black is the symbol of a true expert.

The black belt signifies the highest rank of acquiring karate skills. Once a student is awarded with the black belt it does not necessarily mean that he or she has mastered the entire skill of the martial art. But, it means that the student is prepared to take on challenges of an advanced training.

The length of time it takes to earn a black belt in karate depends on the dedication of the student and the standards of the martial arts school issuing the black belt. An adult student of karate who attends class two times per week on a regular basis can expect to earn a black belt in about five years. But a black belt is, as said, an indication that the student is ready to take on even more advanced karate training. It takes most karate masters about 20 years of continuous training to achieve the level of fifth dan. Each succeeding black belt rank requires that many more years of study. A sixth dan requires six more years of training, a seventh dan requires seven more years, and so on. Ranks for karate masters go as high as tenth dan, though this is exceedingly rare.

“As a practitioner of karate, I understand the importance of training, fitness, discipline and tenacity.”

Karate at Maccabi Antwerp
Sylvain Goldberg had most of his karate training at Maccabi in Antwerp. He became the president of the karate department of this club that is traditionally engaged in many sports. This presidency of the karate division lasted for 12 years. During that period Sylvain was asked by the leading committee of the club, to become it’s general president. Which he also did, on a purely voluntary basis, during 10 years.

Parallels between business and this martial art

It doesn’t take a lot to start drawing parallels between business practice and the different components of karate.

  1. Shotokan-karate-150x300Basics – Have we got our basics right; knowledge, process, relationships, targets, aims etc?
  2. Kata – Do we construct our basics into structures that help us progress, using them to shape what we do and how we move, build our skills, check and refine what we’re doing?
  3. Kumite – Do we apply our basics and structures in such a way that we are able to out-manoeuvre our competitors, know where to target our efforts, defend our resources, develop and hone what we have so that it is even more effective?
  4. Kime – Have we learnt how to use what we have to its maximum potential? Are there things that we can combine in a new way to produce even greater results, greater service, greater enjoyment and fulfillment, greater satisfaction, greater growth … etc?
  5. Control – Have we assessed our position and that of our competitors? Do we see how they are moving? Can we implement strategies that won’t cause undue injury? Are we willing to take the risk to win?

When I gained my black belt I was told, “Now is the time that you start to learn.” This is a good reminder that no matter how long we have been in business, we can always improve if we are willing to learn from what we have done and what we are doing and apply it to the future.