By Flo Brown kar·ma -- noun 1. Hinduism and Buddhism. The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny. 2. Fate; destiny. 3.Informal. A distinctive aura, atmosphere, or feeling: There's bad karma around the house today. 4.Color guard. The effect of a performer's actions and conduct during drum corps. May be combated by way of karma kaps.

Flo Brown
In light of the fact that auditions are approaching, it seems appropriate to discuss karma. The fourth definition above doesn't exist (to my knowledge), but it should because karma is an essential part of color guard culture. The following are a few tips on how to manage karma in your favor. Regard it as a sort of "color guard religion." Regardless of your theological beliefs, being part of a color guard will coerce you into believing that "what goes around, comes around." It is adhered to strictly in most color guards, and enforced jokingly in all others. When I was in the San Jose Raiders (link:, we would often pause in the middle of rehearsal to karma kap a derogatory comment about an opposing organization. Pay it forward. Instead of playing the catch-up game and doing good deeds to make up for bad ones, try giving yourself some insurance. Pick up someone's stray water cooler while you're leaving the field, show up early to your crew job. By allowing yourself a cushion, you make your corps a better place to be. Acknowledge the good, forgive the bad. Sure, it's infuriating to see how cocky other people act during retreat. They'll smile with a condescending look and you'll contemplate breaking ranks to "accidentally" hit them while walking by. Think again: you have two emotions to choose from -- pity or anger. Choose the former, and smile right back when you realize that justice will serve itself eventually. Follow the 2-to-1 rule. For every negative comment you make about someone or something else, immediately counter it with 2 positives. Example: "Flo is unattractive, but she can spin well and dance decently." When in doubt, karma kap. A karma kap is an action that is used to undo negativity. If you say or do something questionable, kap it just in case. First, knock on wood. If wood isn't available, you can substitute it with the ground. Second, knock on the top of your head. Third, form a steeple above your head with your fingers, while saying "karma kap." This eccentric little dance will essentially "void" whatever you had previously said. Wherever you choose to try out in the next few weeks, good luck and have fun. I'd love to hear stories about auditions, so e-mail me if you have anything to share. Florence Brown's previous essay Florence Brown, 19, is a journalism major (with a minor in dance) at San Francisco State University. This spring, she will transfer to the University of North Texas. She marched with the Glassmen in 2002 and 2003, and with the San Jose Raiders World in 2003.