My personal "Interpretive" Lens!
"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour
"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon
"What is true today may be reevaluated as false not long after. Judgements are frequently based upon a set of "temporary" circumstances surrounding them. Conflicting ideologies can exist simultaneously. Antagonistic dualities are complementary aspects of a unified whole: are seen as mutually dependent mirror images of each other." - Nahum Stiskin
Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
A person's heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while the blood circulating is similar to the Sun and Moon yet the manner of drinking and spitting is either soft or hard while a person's unbalance is the same as a weight and the body should be able to change direction at any time as the time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself and both the eyes must see all sides as the ears must listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction.
A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while circulatory system is similar to the cycles of the moon and sun yet the breathing methods are either hard or soft while one’s posture should allow one to advance, retreat, engage, and disengage as the body should be able to act in accordance with time and change so that one must enter a state of emptiness (mushin/zanshin) allowing the eyes must see all sides and the ears should listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction. - My rendition per translation from Andy Sloane Sensei.
What is Karate, really...
Let me begin with a quote from an Okinawan Karate Person:
[Kaneshiro Kenji Sensei (Student of Shimabuku Tatsuo), in an interview conducted on 24 December 1984. He said:
"Karate is not for winning. If you want to win use a gun or atomic bomb (laughter by all). Okinawan karate is for self-defense. The Satsuma Clan came and took away weapons. ‘Karate expert’ Tatsuo Sensei says ‘is not to be wounded’, in other words, don't fight."
"A lot of Americans came and did not understand the true meaning of karate. When they sparred and won, they thought they were the toughest, the best."
"Karate is not for fighting. Karate is to prepare for fighting but don't fight unless needed."
"In Okinawa karate, they go for the killing points. In tournament, you can not hit the groin, but in Okinawa karate it would be one of the first targets."
"Shimabuku Sensei made use of bogu protective gear. Large Americans would win against smaller opponents. Americans thought they were strong. They would push for rank. Higher then the Okinawan. To the Okinawan, Americans did not even know how to pronounce karate much less understand it."
"When Americans went back to the states, they would proclaim there prowess in karate and explain it wrong. Diploma has nothing to do with karate. Renshi, Kyoshi. I received my Kyoshi certificate two years ago (1982, over thirty-two years after starting with Tatsuo). We're not after certificates, we do it for health and heart."
Advincula, A. J.. Isshinkai Yahoo Group. IsshinkaiKarate@yahoogroups.com. California Internet 2009]
I will also quote another email post on the Isshinkai Yahoo group when a person wearing a tap out T-shirt heard the statement that karate is not for winning this same person never returned to the class.
We can attribute the misconceptions of the world of kara-te because of a pension for dominating and achieving the "trophy". In addition and due to a lack of patience in Americans, which has become worse today, they have watered down the real kara-te into what they wanted and that is instant gratification when they see a belt, trophy, or a point is awarded vs. the inner self-gratification one gets from achieving something less grandiose such as a good life and morality unparalleled.
I remember one of my first lessons in karate self-defense techniques that Warner Dean Henry, Sensei and Sergeant Major of Marines (retired) gave. He said, "Take a seisan stance. Raise your right arm where the forearm is
vertical with the fist pointing to the sky. Put the other fist on the waist as if in the cocked position, i.e. posted for a punch. Now, quickly pivot 180 degrees and start running like hell!" His other most famous self-defense technique was explanation of the art of "ka-chink". Any Marine knows the distinctive sound of a forty-five auto when a round is jacked into the chamber...
What I can gleam from the facts I have collected over the years is that almost all the Marines were focused intensely on the kumite and tournament aspects they tended to ignore the more important aspects of kara-te. I believe this is why so many believe today that basics and kata are worthless endeavors...so sad.
If you watch today's kumite it seems more like boxing or kick-boxing which is not kara-te.
The last paragraph of Kaneshiro Sensei is not a new one and it goes to show the character of the individual. In addition it shows the American ego and its need for inflation. It also shows how we seem to lack self-esteem.
Another point to take notice of is the opposites here. Asian cultures tends to look within while American culture looks to the outer. We tend to rely on our outer muscular strength while Asian's focus on the strength of the inner person through the hara. In reality both combined make for a powerful person who tends to hid their true self as a personal private thing while most of us tend to exude a type of person that is domineering and dangerous.
Now let us look at the meaning of karate from Okinawa point of view. It is a more spiritual endeavor that is supposed to promote the person from within for a character, i.e. bushi as defined, "A person greatly respected as a gentleman and professional karate man."
I do believe that we all should look to the development of the mind and spirit. I do believe we should strive to develop "bushi" and that how we act, talk, and be as humans is the most important aspect of the fighting arts.
We still need such things as humanity is still in the dark ages with its pension for domination, violence, and destruction of the self as well as others. If I felt that we could walk this Earth today with out fear of any situations where our lives and well being were in possible jeopardy then I would switch to the tea ceremony or calligraphy as my "Do or Art" form.
Did "Te" in its original form really mean to practice fighting with out fighting or did that part come from the caliber of Masters from Old Okinawa who just happened to have the intestinal fortitude to "see" the truth and by the deeds and actions conveyed "bushi" as an important part of practice/training?
Even today when you hear the stories of the old masters it is usually about their prowess as fighters with a few talked of as true "bushi", i.e. Bushi Matsumara, etc.
Maybe it was just understood that one must develop both sides of the coin, i.e. the physical part and the spiritual part for "one" wholehearted way of practice and training in "Te."
Does the Okinawan really do it for health and heart? If we decide that health is the physical side of that coin and that heart is to mean the spiritual side of that same coin then "yes" we can say they do practice for health and heart.
Here is the crux of the matter. We can all say we do this or that yet if we are only providing lip service and not actually putting it into practice both in the training hall and life then we are empty.
I define kara-te as "kara-te-jutsu-do" which encompasses both the spiritual and physical. I look to kara-te as a tool to achieve enlightenment through its singular practice. I do practice the health and heart aspect of karate. I believe it is a means of attaining all round health and perfection of the mind, spirit, and body for that "one" wholehearted way of living life as a "bushi." I believe that we have to accept all aspects of it with out picking and choosing parts as we see fit to actually practice the fighting arts of kara-te-jutsu-do.
We can not just pick those things we find easy to do or learn and ignore all other aspects simply because we don't think they have validity. These forms of achieving bushi have evolved on Okinawa over several hundred years of continuous, dedicated, and constant practice and training. All aspects have purpose and I personally have discovered this truth through my practice and training.
I started as most Marines with the physical form in fighting and yet because I was persistent and dedicated I discovered through practice the truth and it is complex in its simplicity.
I discovered the strings that connect everything in the Universe and try to adhere to those standards and practices in kara-te and life. This is the truth of the fighting arts of Okinawa.
Embrace and practice the "whole" of kara-te-justu-do of Okinawa and practice it "wholeheartedly!"