Unfortunately to the uninitiated, misinformed or misguided, karate is simply a matter of learning how to kick and punch, and inflicting as much damage to an opponent as possible.
To those who have spent many long hours—no, many long years of memorization, sore muscles, aching bodies, gallons of perspiration, tedious repetitions of moves, karate becomes more. Karate becomes a way of life, an avenue by which one learns to understand oneself through self-reflection, self-awareness; one is set upon path leading to perfection of self.
The untold number of punches, the myriad of kicks, innumerable yakusoku randori, ippon kumite and fukushiki kumite practice in conjunction with deep and meaningful meditation, the novice learns that these strenuous workouts are for the betterment of self. There comes the realization that one must face adversity and overcome it. Soon the student achieves awareness that manifestations the beauty of the harmonious blending of mind, body and spirit.
Mushin No Shin
A state of mushin no shin, a mind of no-mind, is where the mind has been set free to achieve goals unhampered by extraneous thoughts or ideas. Through arduous practice, internalization and mechanization of techniques the mind is free to act with astounding decisiveness. At the same time a state of ryunan-shin must exist. An attitude exists where one is willing to give up the ego for betterment of self and system.
One comes to the realization that karate is more than a pugilistic art but rather a philosophy, heavily dependent upon Zen doctrines, which stresses self awareness, calmness, loyalty, fidelity, and the embodiment of morality.
A gentleman by the name of Nago Oyakata some time about 1663 stated:
“No matter how you may excel in the
Art of Te and in your scholastic endeavors,
Nothing is more important than your
Behavior as observed in daily life.”
From the origins of jujtsu sometime about 1540:
- Not to resist an opponent, but to gain victory through pliancy.
- Not to aim at frequent victory.
- Not to be let into schooling by keeping the mind composed and empty.
- Not to be disturbed by things.
- Not to be agitated under any emergency be to be tranquil.
Through the diligent study and practice of karate do, the student attains heijoshin—the everyday mind, where a state of calmness faces diversity. The karate-ka learns that there are more ways to win a fight than to revert to acts of violence, but when an assertive action is absolutely and unavoidably necessary, it is done to win as quickly and efficiently as possible.