Thursday, 3 May 2012

Where does YOUR karate come from?

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be yet another treatise on the history of karate – we all know karate comes from Okinawa…

What I mean is where does YOUR karate come from in YOU?

You may be aware of the phrase Shin Gi Tai. This goes a long way to explaining where your karate comes from but in my opinion it misses one important ingredient. Before I reveal what that is lets explain what these terms mean:

Tai: This means the body (e.g. tai sabaki – body movement). It refers to the fact that to do karate well you must have a fit, healthy body that is flexible, coordinated and strong. Our body must be able to endure physical contact with another and react quickly to changing situations. We achieve this kind of body through hard repetitive training of the basics of our art as well as our own supplementary training.

Shin: This means the mind (e.g mushin – no mind; shoshin – beginner’s mind, seishin – positive mind, zanshin – an aware mind). It refers to the need to cultivate the correct mental skills to be a good karateka such as developing a clear and uncluttered mind that is fully focused on the task in hand whilst still maintaining a peripheral awareness of what is happening around. It also refers to developing a positive, confident spirit, one that will persevere with determination to achieve one’s goals.

Gi: This refers to technique. It’s no good cultivating the perfect body and mind if you don’t know how to do any karate! Obviously you need to learn and practice a range of karate techniques too.

We generally develop shin gi tai in parallel, improving in each one as we progress through training, so you might consider that your karate comes from your body, mind and good technique all combining together in a coordinated fashion . It’s a very holistic approach – the end result being greater than the sum of the parts; but for me there is an ingredient missing here…

I would argue that karate really comes from the heart. The Japanese word for this is kokora. The heart is the seat of passion, compassion, conviction not to mention courage. We feel all these things in our hearts and it is these things that drive us to be good karateka. We feel our karate in our hearts; it virtually bursts out of us if we are doing it well.

If you look around the students in your dojo you can see who has the heart for it and who doesn’t. Some will be sweating with the effort, appear to be concentrating, even have reasonable technique but their face tells you they have no heart for it, it looks expressionless and bored. Others may still be out of shape, getting a little confused with the technique but the look of joy and animation on their faces as they persist in trying to improve tell you they have heart.

Having the heart for karate may save you one day – if you lose heart you will lose the fight.

So where does YOUR karate come from – is it the heart?

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Charles James said...

absolutely and wholeheartedly

The Strongest Karate said...

Tai...definitely Tai.

I love the sense of pushing body further and further and gaining the skills that come along with doing so.

Great post Sue.

John Vesia said...

Nice article, Sue.

My two cents (it's short):

Journeyman said...

Each area is important. I believe the spirit, which is what I think of when I hear you say heart, is the most important part. If you are not prepared to prevail in any situation, neither six pack nor pretty technique will save you.

Development of the body or the techniques are just tools to make it easier to carry out your commitment to survive and prevail.

My heart (while not really Karate) is my absolute conviction that I will survive, no matter what.

Good post.

Sue C said...

Charles ....kindred spirit ;-)

Brett, surely that desire to really push the body comes from the heart?

John, loved your article too...

Journeyman, in my view heart and spirit are not quite the same thing. It's that real yearning and desire that makes you carry on even when the spirit is starting to weaken. Not sure I can explain it any better....

Charles James said...

Sue said to Journeyman, "heart and spirit are not quite the same thing"

I take this only because of the cultural research and references to the characters/ideograms used in same.

Heart and Spirit are both defined by the character, i.e.

Kokoro [心] means heart, mind, spirit.

Just saying :-)

Sue C said...

Okay Charles, you got me there! Still, there is still something subtly different between the two, in my mind at least. What do you think the difference is between 'shin' and 'kokoro'?

natalie said...

graphic design maryborough I haven't heard the word but thanks for sharing because of here i knew the meaning of the word. I am not a player of it but i really love to watch the game on karate.printing maryborough

Sue C said...

You're welcome Natalie, thanks for commenting.


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