The other day while speaking to a friend interested in training Shotokai (he is now) I suddenly had an insight (as they normally appear :)). It may be wrong, may be to far-fetched but it sounds right and it is rather interesting. I will try to put it down in words and maybe build a bit upon it.
We all know Karate-do is not an art for generating bullies nor egomaniacs nor killers, quite the contrary. We also know that Karate in itself is not applicable directly as self-defense techniques in our daily life when exposed to high power weapons (no matter what Hollywood might try to convince the gullible public :-)).
I talked to my friend about the constant and clear conscience you must learn to develop and maintain in your daily life through constant and severe training. This conscience must become a daily constant an eternal companion. To know your surroundings, those that are close by and those further away, you must be prepared for an attack at any moment and from any direction. But then I thought: "All Karate-do is merely an analogy of real life", you must have a clear conscience in your daily life as well, you must be present here and now as well as you possibly can, not mope around with your mind absorbed by your problems, wasting your energy, escaping reality and the present.
You must learn to control body and mind, lest your body and mind control you, this is also a maxim in Karate-do linked intimately with the maxim: "Know thyself and then others" from the Ni Ju Kun and "Place efforts in perfecting your character" from the Dojo Kun. Techniques, Kata and Kumite help you in that process. You'll learn to coordinate and control your bodies, learn to breath, learn to relax, learn to generate strength through flexibility. This last point has been a problem in my life lately. I must admit not having that ability neither in my Karate nor in my personal life. I have just been involved in a relationship where my excessive flexibility and acceptance led to it being used against myself. This is expressed in my personal Karate training where either I use too much strength eliminating speed and effectivity or excessive flexibility can result in useless movements. Here again we are exposed to a parallel between Karate-do and life in itself.
But then I think we must not become obsessed neither with our work, love nor with Karate-do. There is no problem in loving what you do nor loving someone but balance is always the prime element to attain in your life. We must be careful and not believe Karate-do will become our life and think of nothing else.
Through Karate-do you will progressively attain a better knowledge about yourself. This is not necessarily on an intellectual level rather and more importantly on a spiritual level. "Know thyself", "Know yourself and then others", repeating maxims in Greece, Japan, and many other places in history and time, it must not be a mystery though. Many great philosophers repeat themselves, it is a self-evident truth, the ones I call universal truths. Self knowledge is the foundation of future development both in life and in Karate-do. This must be sought through a disciplined life and training based on a strong will to overcome and advance.
Through training you develop a more profound perception of not only nature but also human beings, you learn to look beyond the surface to search for that which makes all people profound and interesting in one way or another. This will bring many rewards in life.
I talk too much I admit, furthermore I admit having a very basic knowledge and am far from a perfectly developed personality and character and I admit that I am working on it. But then again that's what life is for and I have no intention of wasting it.
August 27, 1998
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