KARATE-DO, Beyond Technique
Shigeru Egami Sensei
Kodansha International, 1972
Forty years have passed since I began to practice karate under
Funakoshi. During those years, I have of course changed physically and
mentally; in some cases, I became aware of the changes myself, but at other
times they were pointed out by others. But always, I think, they were inevitable.
Moreover, there have been great changes in the techniques and the kata
during this period. My objectives in writing this book are to review the
changes that have taken place in Karate-do —for the purpose of casting
a fresh light on what is important in karate training— and to present the
fundamentals to be practiced by the student.
The changes have by no means been merely technical
ones; changes have also occurred in the way of thinking. We were taught,
for example, that all movements follow a straight line and practiced in
this way, but the truth is quite the opposite: karate movements never follow
a straight line. Some movements are circular, some are up and down, and
some are lateral. Although there was a time when we would have thought
it inconceivable, even striking is not done in a straight line; it can
be done in a number of ways. Blocking techniques have also changed, and
the movements performed In a kata, from beginning to end, have become varied
Since the changes are numerous and fundamental,
several questions arise. For example, did the karate-ka of former days
think of training in the fundamentals as the way leading to real practice?
That is, did they realize that through practice they could clarify the
relation between mind and body, understand the relation between one's own
mind and the mind of another, and seek the innermost secrets of the human
The ideal of Gichin Funakoshi, who has come
to be recognized as the "Father of Karate-do," was to advance from jutsu
("technique") to do (the "way"). It became my mission to realize this ideal,
but here again questions arise: What is the meaning of "from technique
to the way ?" Through what kind of practice can one attain this ideal ?
Karate-jutsu or Karate-do ? The distinction
between the two must be clearly grasped. Karate-jutsu must be regarded
as nothing more than a technique for homicide, and that, most emphatically,
is not the objective of Karate-do. He who would follow the way of true
karate must seek not only to coexist with his opponent but to achieve unity
with him. There is no question of homicide, nor should emphasis ever be
placed on winning. When practicing Karate-do, what is important is to be
one with your partner, move together, and make progress together.
The differences between the karate of today
and that of former times extend even to warming-up exercises, for if the
way of thinking changes, everything will change. Stress is now placed on
suppleness of both mind and body. For those of us who began the practice
of karate long ago, the result of making our bodies rigid was to become
muscle-bound, and our power was dispersed to many parts of our bodies.
The present concept is that the body be relaxed, supple and strong, and
the power concentrated in one point. Furthermore, the mind should be clear,
that is, without thoughts, and all movements should be made in a natural
way. Without a clear, supple mind, the body cannot be supple.
That karate has come to be identified in the
public mind as an "art of homicide" is indeed sad and unfortunate. It is
not that. It is an art of self-defense, but in order to attain its benefits,
the practitioner must be completely free of any egotistic feeling. This
widespread, public misconception was very much in my mind while I wrote,
and I would be very happy if this book could serve as a corrective to the
mistaken public image and thus become a valuable guide to those who will
practice karate in the future.
In 1972, at the request of Mr. Tomoji Miyamoto
of the Japan Karate-do Shoto-kai's secretariat, I began a series of articles
under the title "Changes in Technique" for Karate-do, the newsletter of
the Shoto-kai. On the recommendation of my colleagues, and also in commemoration
of my sixtieth birthday, these articles have been translated to form the
basis of this book. Since I am not a writer by profession, I fear that
this book is full of defects. However, I would like to dedicate it to the
members of the Shoto-kai in deep appreciation of their long friendship
and support. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt
gratitude to the many persons who have been of assistance in bringing this
book to publication.
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