“Karate is not a game. It is not a sport. It is not even a system of self-defense. Karate is half physical exercise and half spiritual. The karateist who has given the necessary years of exercise and meditation is a tranquil person. He is unafraid. He can even be calm in a burning building.” – Mas. Oyama
One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about social media, is the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world whom I’ve never met, but share some of the same passions that I have. I have thousands of Facebook friends from many different countries and who live on every continent (except Antarctica) who share my love of Kyokushin. One of those people, whom I’ve chatted with from time to time, is Shihan Mac Robertson, the UK representative of So-Kyokushin.
He recently posed this question on his Facebook page:
Karate thoughts, How do you understand the first line of the Dojo Kun? “We will train our hearts and bodies for a firm unshaking spirit”.
I wrote a short answer to his question but decided a longer answer was worth writing. These of course are just my own thoughts. Others may interpret it differently.
Reciting the dojo kun (school oath) is something that literally millions of Kyokushin karateka from all over the world have been doing for decades. Sosai Oyama was a great admirer of Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s greatest samurai warrior. He met and became friends with Eiji Yoshikawa, the author of the novel “Musashi”. It was to Yoshikawa that he turned to for assistance when he wrote the school oath for his style of karate. The style he named “Kyokushin” (Ultimate truth). There is no doubt that Sosai found in martial arts, a “spiritual” path!
Today there are millions of us (it’s been estimated over 12 million people worldwide have practiced Kyokushin) who have recited the dojo kun, and continue to do so at the end of training. I’m sure I’ve recited it thousands of times myself over the years. Shihan Robertson though makes a very good point…how many have really taken the time to “think” about the words they’re saying? It is often claimed that we are practising karate for more than just the physical aspects, but how often do we “really” recognize that?
When I ran across Shihan Robertson’s Facebook post earlier this evening, the first thing that I thought of was the Mas. Oyama quote that I started with above. “We will train our hearts and bodies…”, figuratively, our hearts are the source of our spiritual strength. When our hearts are strong, there is nothing that we cannot face. There is nothing that we cannot overcome! The heart and the body work together, giving us the spirit to overcome any obstacle. To literally, if the situation calls for it, remain calm in any situation and do what needs to be done.
We train our hearts and bodies to be strong. So that no matter what life throws at us, we will be able to face it and deal with it. When we train our hearts and bodies, the end result is the spirit is strengthened. It was this strengthening of spirit, that I believe was Sosai’s ultimate goal for all of us. It was, and is, through hard training that we discover our own spirit inside of us. The spirit of OSU! The spirit of never giving up! That spirit is there inside all of us. We just have to do the work in order to find it.
Would love to hear from those of you are reading this and what YOUR thoughts are!