Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Meditation on the Kyokushin Dojo Kun

"Hitotsu, wareware wa, shinshin o renmashi, kakko fubatsu no shingi o kiwameru koto."
"We will train our hearts and bodies for a firm unshaken spirit."

The first thing I noticed about this sentence is the three aspects mentioned. As a person who studied psychology I learned about the id, the ego, and the superego theory which are the three levels of a person's mind. As a religious person, I noticed three aspects of a person being addressed, the mind, the body, and the spirit. Now, as a Martial artist, I see within this statement of the Dojo Kun three different parts: our hearts, our bodies, and our spirit. Although separated into three parts in theory, we are aware that these are totally integrated.

The more that I learn about Eastern Philosophy, about chakras (central energy points), and about Chi/Ki (energy) movement, the more I can understand where this statement is originating, and what it's goals are. It is taught that the center of our "spirit" is the Hara: a point located a few inches behind our center of gravity near the navel. Our heart is by the Anahata chakra point, and is involved in all emotional decisions or considerations. The goal, in Eastern philosophy, is to activate all 7 of the chakra points in the body for good health, and to be able to make good decisions. In an ideal situation, all of the 7 energy centers should be spinning at the same rate, but in most people, some points spin too much, and others are blocked, or spin slowly.

According to this, we have to train our heart, and body equally to balance our physical ability, with our mental/ emotional reaction in order to achieve a strong spirit. Our whole selves has to be involved in our karate training. Just performing the movements of a kata would be similar to performing a dance. It would be like "Put your right foot here, put your left arm here.." and no matter how well one did it, they would have no "spirit" in those movements. Training on emotion alone would not be karate either. Without technique, physical effort, a person would just be wildly swinging their arms with lots of energy, but with no effect.
Showing "spirit" comes when the body, and mind are united to the same purpose. All energy is focused into each action. This is referred to as "Kime". Usually it is accompanied with a Kiai ( a spirit shout) as breath is very closely united with the flow of energy in our bodies.

I can see how to have a unity of the body, heart, and spirit one has to train in every aspect of their lives. You cannot just train in the dojo anymore. There has to be a perseverence in your training. You have to carry what you have learned in class out with you, and keep up practicing each day. Just like a musician cannot improve in their performance by just showing up to class once, or twice a week, and they are expected to do at least a certain amount of practicing at home to ingrain the skills, the same should be true for a Martial Artist. This is even MORE true, as a Martial artist is training all of the parts of their body. The foot is just as important as the hand. The thought is just as important as the body.

In fact, our inner thoughts can make or break our ability to defend ourselves. Many fights have been won just by unbalancing the opponent mentally to the point where they could not apply their hard earned skills to defend themselves. We must develop a firm unshaken inner posture in the face of hardship, fear, threat, and challenges. Where does our inner strength come from? I would suggest that they come from our values, and our confidence in these values. We value our life, or the life of our children so we will do what it takes to protect these. We value our honesty, so we make efforts to be truthful. We value our courage, so we will put forth the best that we have in a challenge. The more that we value the good things in ourselves, and in the teachings that we have embraced, the stronger we can be in the face of adversity. Our karate training shows this in every class that we put forth our best effort to meet the challenges placed before us, and to even surpass what we believed to be our limitations. I read a quote that said "If you think you can't, then you won't." The words "I can't" should not be in the vocabulary of a Martial artist. The focus is more on " I will", whether you achieve the goal or not isn't the issue.. the main idea is that you will do your best to achieve it.

Nothing should shake you from your values, no one has the right to try to remove them from you. If there is one thing that you can claim as being your own, and as being untouchable, it is your values. Regardless to what esteemed societal position, or high rank in karate that other person has, he/she has no right to expect you to sacrifice what you believe in. If you chose to embrace the values of another person because you deem them worthy that is a different thing, but no outside pressure should force a person to "change their mind". This is one of the benefits of training our hearts, and bodies for a firm, unshaken spirit.

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