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.
COMPARISON: “karate ni sente nashi.” and "The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself."
Second, we cannot forget that this first principle is open to many interpretations due to the original presentation in Japanese characters which seem to rely on where, who, when, and what kind of preconceived/perceived experiences drive their particular explanations.
Third, and the majority of the remaining comments for this post, is how do we resolve and differentiate between these two principles or beliefs. Do we have to deal with cognitive dissonance and other such questions to come to a consensus between like minds.
I feel that in a real sense that keeping to the morals, beliefs, and meaning of both the individual and the mentor that all of us are correct when it results in a positive and beneficial result. Positive and beneficial as to the individual's needs and goals yet also meets those of the tribe/dojo and society as a whole - how society accepts or rejects such things.
Some of the justifications for this mode of belief are:
1 - Religious in nature, i.e. the commandments.
2 - The kata meaning, i.e. every kata starts with a block ...
3 - The meaning actually does not preclude striking first. The first attack consists of other than physical blows, etc.
4 - The belief once a threat is attacking karate-ka are free to "defend" regardless.
5 - The belief that you wait until the threat becomes physical is foolhardy, etc.
6 - The belief that our understanding of a threats intent governs how we implement the principles here.
7 - The belief that the two are more of a mid/late 1900's move toward cultivation of the mind by living to these precepts.
8 - The belief that these were created when the move to implementation into school systems to govern the watered down mostly physical versions governed.
9 - The belief that instruction of the mostly combative percepts in the dojo needed to be tempered by a moral code thus along with school implementation the more commercialization needed to add in for balance.
10 - The belief that it must be interpreted literally while its intent may have been more personally esoteric in nature.
11 - The belief that it actually means to do no harm to others, i.e "one must not harm others for no good reason."
12 - The belief, "a mental attitude of not being eager or inclined to fight."
On twelve I would quote, "Kobo Kenpo Karate-do Nyumon" chapter 10, "There is a precept “karate ni sente nashi.” Properly understood, this indicates a mental attitude of not being eager or inclined to fight. It is the teaching that just because one has trained in karate does not mean that one can rashly strike or kick others. ... the expression karate ni sente nashi should be properly understood to mean that a person who practices karate must never take a bellicose attitude, looking to cause an incident; he or she should always have the virtues of calmness, prudence and humility in dealing with others. (Mabuni and Nakasone 82-83)"
I personally believe that these two closely allude to this last belief and the quote below it. I have studied the ken-po goku-i as best as I possibly can and have come to the conclusion that it is never a good idea to get physical and that one must temper karate with humility and a belief system that promotes a calm and prudent attitude in all you do - not just regarding karate or any martial system.
To me the ken-po goku-i or law of the fist means that one only strikes, punches, or any other physical act when its need is presented to the victim in a manner leaving no other recourse - you fail to avoid, you let your awareness drop, or you allowed ego/pride to release your monkey brain precluding avoidance, etc. I also feel like the attempts to define the Tao-te-ching that it is something that exists when developed and nurtured by the person and is also not easily communicated but must be something felt at our core.
In conclusion from Okinawan Masters: "1930's era: ... Choki Motobu and Kenwa Mabuni – ... they strongly believed that striking first does not necessarily violate the sente nashi principle. Indeed, both men seem to have felt that a first strike is, under certain conditions, the only reasonable course of action for a karate- ka to take."
"Mabuni was “a staunch advocate of the moral values established to govern the behavior of karate-do practitioners” (McCarthy, “Standing” 34)."
p.s. Tao-te-ching, wonder if the te part can be connected to the hand in some philosophical inference/reference?
Tankosich, Mark J. "Karate Ni Sente Nashi: What the Masters had to Say. [revised version of a paper that originally appeared in Vol. 27, No. 1 of the Hiroshima University of Economics Journal of Humanities, Social and Natural Sciences.] 2004 pdf format article from Charles Goodin Library Web Site.