My focus in these short articles is to share my personal experience and provide a modern interpretation of each of the 20 precepts, both in the dojo and in life in general. In no way do I claim to have "the" insight to what Funakoshi was thinking when he wrote them. Nor do I think my interpretation is applicable for everyone. With this context, I share my thoughts with you humbly and sincerely. I hope you gain or validate your own personal insights in my writing, and explore how they can benefit you in many aspects of your life.
7. Apply The Way Of Karate To All Things. Therein Lies Its Beauty.
I have attached links to the other articles I wrote about the Dojo Kun if you are interested:
Niju Kun Part 1- Karate Goes Beyond The Dojo
Niju Kun Part 2- Karate Begins and Ends With Rei (Bow)
Niju Kun Part 3- There Is No First Strike In Karate
Niju Kun Part 4- First Know Yourself, Then Know Others
Niju Kun Part 5- Mentality Over Technique
Niju Kun Part 6- The Heart Must Be Set Free
Between being a dad, a husband, a son, a friend, holding a "regular job", a small business owner (the dojo) and the many other responsibilities and activities that fill my life I try to find time to focus on my training. Training for me is not only the time I get to practice in the dojo but is also reading books and articles, writing for our blog and watching videos to supplement my time actually kicking, punching and blocking.
One thing I have started to notice in my reading is a trend to downplaying or even ridiculing the notion that karate is more than just what you see on the surface. To the subscribers of this way of thinking, karate is not a self-development pursuit nor a way to gain insight about yourself, others or the world around you. It is simply what you see. A system of physical self defense that some argue is antiquated, and not realistic nor applicable in the modern world in which we live. At the extreme, some would say that karate encourages students to be cult-like or quasi-religious, only to be disappointed when they discover there is no "zen-like" or spiritual benefit at the end of the day.
There are two quotes that I would like to share that better summarize my thoughts than I could ever say:
Everyone is entitled to their opinion is an understatement. Your reality is solely shaped by where you place your intention and where you focus your attention. 90% of our life is what we think and the other 10% is what actually transpires. Therefore I respect all opinions as they are a direct reflection of the individual who states them. That is their reality. Just as I have a different perspective, a different reality. Neither is the "only way" but to both of us we are "right".
Having said this I would like to express and alternate viewpoint of karate training than I just described above, and will also begin with a quote:
these personal insights outside the dojo, some with success and others I am still working on. Without repeating what I have learned through karate, I have listed some articles below I have written in the past that demonstrate how karate can be applied to all things as Funakoshi stated:
What Do Ancient Samurai Have To Do With Karate Today?
Why Kids Should Train Karate
Why Adults Should Train Karate Too
And therein lies the beauty for me personally.
I am not suggesting that karate in and of itself will show you the path to enlightenment. Karate is not transcendental meditation nor is it a cult nor a religion. You do not need to shave your head, retreat to the Shaolin temple and learn zen-like philosophies from a white bearded Asian man smacking you with a stick while perfecting your drunken monkey technique.
It is a means to which I can deliberately stop, reflect and gain knowledge and insight to the essential facts of life as Thoreau stated. This can be achieved many ways. Committing to a life partner, having a child, experiencing a death or illness in the family, loosing a job and/or all the other things that life brings your way can achieve this same outcome. You just need to stop, listen and learn. And in a world where it is increasingly difficult to do so, karate has provided that outlet for me.
I would also like to pick up on the themes of knowledge and insight. I feel sorry for people who only live in the physical world of what we see, hear, smell, taste or touch. There are more unknowns than knowns in life and everything in the universe. Ask any scientist in any field and they will readily tell you that, even with all of the advances in modern science today, we still only know a fraction of what is out there and what is still to be discovered. At one time conventional wisdom was that the world was flat. With advancements in knowledge we discovered that the world was round. At one time not too long ago people believed women should not have the right to vote. We gained insight that this was false. Knowledge and insight have lead to all the advancements of humankind throughout history. Looking to the future, we have made incredible discoveries about the universe around us in the past 20 years. We now know that there are billions of stars just in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and billions of galaxies in the "known universe" (meaning there are more galaxies in the universe that we even know about). Therefore it is mathematically impossible that our planet is the only one in the entire universe that could support life like ours on planet earth. Yet there are still people who refuse to believe it because they have not seen it, because we can not prove it- today.
I encourage you to look beyond the surface, see the parallels in your life that you have gained through your knowledge and insights, karate being just one of those mediums in which to achieve it. Life is karate- karate is life. I am not saying make karate your life- quite the opposite. What I am saying is how you train is how you live your life, and how you live your life is how you train. Just like being a partner, a parent, a family member, a co-worker and so on. Apply the way of karate to all things and all things apply to karate. Therein lies the beauty.
Since 1988, Way Of Life Shotokan Karate has been committed to teaching traditional karate and values for a modern world. Under the leadership of Norman Smith Sensei, Way Of Life Shotokan Karate instructs hundreds of students at our various locations from beginner to advanced levels of all ages that come from across the New York City metro area. Our unique way of combining martial arts training, etiquette and philosophy with the modern concepts of fitness, self-defense and competition is unparalleled. We ensure your training is vigorous, while maintaining a safe and fun learning environment that encourages students to reach their fullest potential.
Way Of Life Shotokan Karate Do martial arts school is now officially open at 501 East Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck NY, 10543 serving the local Westchester County communities of New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Rye, Port Chester, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale, White Plains and Yonkers as well as the Bronx and NYC metro area.