KARATE-DO, Beyond Technique

Shigeru Egami Sensei

Kodansha International, 1972

Introduction (Part II) 

In striving for the mistaken, homicidal objective, the beginner will give his all in training, believing that compromise simply does not exist. To him, it is a simple black-and-white question of life or death; according to this view, one must either kill his adversary or be killed himself. 

To kill with one blow or to emerge from a match or fight always victorious are objectives that only a beginner can seriously believe in. Never losing does not mean always winning. When one comes to a true understanding of this, one will have graduated from the beginners' class. In a contest, it is natural for the strongest to be the victor, but a contest is only a contest. In Karate-do, there is neither strong man nor weak man. The essence of the art is mutual cooperation. This is the ultimate in Karate-do. 

After a child is born, the first persons he comes into contact with are his mother, his father, his brothers, his sisters. As he grows, he makes friends with other children and comes into contact with his teachers. He begins to read books and learn about men of the past. As he matures physically and mentally, he meets many kinds of people, and he forms some idea of human society. Since a man cannot exist by himself, he also comes to appreciate the importance of human relationships. 

The relevance of this to karate training and practice is that they are, in reality, ways of pursuing and exploring the essence of being human. Thus, for example, even if you should have a partner who is vicious and determined to injure you, this is fortunate for you. To know yourself, to know your opponent, to understand the relationship between the two; these are the true objectives of training. 

Companion and consideration for others are commonplace words, frequently used, but to put them into practice is exceedingly difficult. Before taking any action, it is of the greatest importance not only to take the other person's position into consideration but to understand it fully. In fact, in coming to a perfect understanding of the other's position you will achieve a unity with him, and words like victory and defeat will be seen to be meaningless. This is the real secret of karate- coexisting with your opponent. And when this is accomplished, the understanding that human beings were made to cooperate with each other will become your own understanding. Practice will never be complete until this state of mind is achieved. 

Beginning in the training of one's body, practice continues with the training of one's spirit. Finally one realizes that body and spirit are not two things but one. This is true practice. 

Training of the body is the subject on which I have concentrated in the present work, but I have also explained the preliminary stages of practice. (The distinction between training and practice is an important one, concerning which I shall have more to say at the appropriate time.) The importance of training the body lies in the fact that if one's body is tense and rigid, it is impossible to be spiritually sound and flexible. 

One point I should like to underscore at this time is that when one begins, he should approach training with an attitude of acceptance, follow instructions wholeheartedly, and always give his best. At this point he should not worry about form or whether his body is tense or relaxed. It is best to act naturally and concentrate on learning how to make the most powerful and effective blow with the hands or feet. In this way, one will come to realize that the most effective techniques, whether offensive or defensive, obtain from being natural and flexible. The time for questioning and expressing one's own opinions will come later, after the techniques have been mastered.

Introduction, Part III 

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