Martial arts

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Getting our black belt is like turning 21 years old. Something we look forward to as we approach it. Something we celebrate when it arrives. Something to reflect fondly upon when we are older. But, in the end, it is just another day in the journey. Michael Buelow

Make friends through Karate!” - Seikichi Iha, Hanshi, 10th Dan Beikoku Shidokan Karate-do.

Every day is a good day for karate. - Seikichi Iha, Hanshi, 10th Dan Beikoku Shidokan Karate-do.

The techniques should not be practised simply so they can be performed in the kata. Since karate is a fighting art each technique and movement has its own meaning. The karateka must consider their meaning, how and why they are effective, and practise accordingly. - Shigeru Egami

In karate, hitting, thrusting, and kicking are not the only methods, throwing techniques and pressure against joints are included … all these techniques should be studied referring to basic kata” - Gichin Funakoshi

Once a kata has been learned, it must be practiced repeatedly until it can be applied in an emergency, for knowledge of just the sequence of a kata in karate is useless. - Gichin Funakoshi

Practise each of the techniques of karate repeatedly. Learn the explanations of every technique well, and decide when and in what manner to apply them when needed. - Ankō Itosu

The karate that has been introduced to Tokyo is actually just a part of the whole. The fact that those who have learnt karate there feel it only consists of kicks & punches, and that throws & locks are only to be found in judo or jujutsu, can only be put down to a lack of understanding … Those who are thinking of the future of karate should have an open mind and strive to study the complete art. - Kenwa Mabuni

The techniques of kata have their limits and were never intended to be used against an opponent in an arena or on a battlefield. - Choki Motobu

The meaning of the directions in kata is not well understood, and frequently mistakes are made in the interpretation of kata movements. In extreme cases, it is sometimes heard that “this kata moves in 8 directions so it is designed for fighting 8 opponents” or some such nonsense. - Kenwa Mabuni

The Art of Karate as an Art of self-defense is an ethical approach to the resolution of conflict, because it is a discipline that develops the confidence to neutralize hostility by alternative, non-violent means. - Terrence Webster-Doyle, Karate, the art of empty self

Words and theory are not a substitute for the physical and mental training required to polish one’s kung-fu. Yet, they are an essential part of the learning process, allowing the mind to process commands and concepts that help the body move in a special, kung-fu way. - Adam Hsu, The Sword Polisher’s Record; The Way of Kung-fu

Spirit is wonderful, but it can’t replace technical skill. Want to become good at karate? Practice karate. - Dave Lowry, Blackbelt Magazine, December 2007

It (karate) is not intended to be used against a single assailant but instead as a way of avoiding injury by using the hands and feet should one by any chance be confronted by a villain or ruffian. - Anko Itosu

Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature. - Morihei Ueshiba

Karate in the mind, karate in the heart, karate is never about what you are wearing round your waist. (A line from the karate kid film 1984)

Getting your black belt is like turning 21 years old. Something we look forward to as we approach it. Something to celebrate when it arrives. Something to reflect fondly upon when we are older. But, in the end, it is just another day in the journey. - Michael Buelow

A black belt is nothing more than a belt that goes around your waist. Being a black belt is a state of mind and attitude. - Rick English

The very essence of self-defense is a thin list of things that might get you out alive when you are already screwed. - Sergeant Rory Miller: Meditations On Violence, A Comparison Of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence

Remember, fighting skills aren’t the key to self-protection: fighting is what happens when self-protection goes bad. -

The ultimate aim of the art of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the characters of its participants. - Gichin Funakoshi

Some young enthusiasts of karate believe that it can be learned only from instructors in a dojo, but such men are mere technicians, not true karateka. There is a Buddhist saying that “any place can be a dojo,” and that is a saying that anyone who wants to follow the way of karate must never forget. Karate-do is not only the acquisition of certain defensive skills but also the mastering of the arts of being a good and honest member of society. - Gichin Funakoshi

Kenpo Creed I come to you with only Karate … Empty Hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles, or my honor ... Should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong ... Then here are my weapons … Karate, my empty hands. - Ed Parker

Karate-do is not a philosophy, it is a practice. It is not rank and grading, it is living and sharing. It is not a way of war, but ultimately a way of peace and reconciliation. - Thomas M. White, Three Golden Pearls on a String

A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he unable to make the choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence. He chooses peace … Only a warrior who has tempered his spirit in conflict and who has confronted himself and his greatest fears can, in my opinion, make the choice to be a pacifist. - Yukiyoshu Takamura

... what men in armor believed five hundred years ago is of no help or meaning anywhere an American life. Forget samurai. They’re movie heroes, like James Bond, a fantasy of what never was. Don’t go samurai. The way of the warrior is death. - Stephen Hunter, The 47th Samurai

A true karate-ka takes the physical skills, discipline and power of concentration developed at the dojo and applies them to work, family and social life. In this way, karate is integrated into the fabric of our lives; it is not something separate. The way of karate is the way of everyday life. - Tadashi Nakamura, Karate, Technique & Spirit

There is no set standard for what makes a warrior. You don’t have to be able to throw people over your shoulder or endure a fifty-mile forced march. That’s not what being a warrior means. Being a warrior means living with courage and integrity, and facing difficulties with dignity and finding joy even in sorrow. - Jennifer Lawler, Dojo Wisdom

Avoid rather than check; check rather than hurt; hurt rather than maim; maim rather than kill; for all life is precious, nor can any be replaced. - David Chow & Richard Spangler, Kung Fu

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought. - Basho

The Way (do) requires patience and constant practice, because there is no end and no goal, there is just the practice. We need to constantly remind ourselves of this fact. - Tadashi Nakamura, Karate, Technique & Spirit

Karate is not something that one does, it is something that one becomes. And though the external mask of training might be readily seen in the lighted arena, the essence of Karate-do is ever the veiled presence of being. - Thomas M. White, Three Golden Pearls on a String

Each one of us starts Karate with some particular reason: to be a good fighter, to keep in good physical shape, to protect yourself. I wanted to become very strong myself when I first began. But Karate training soon teaches that real strength is facing oneself strictly with severe eyes. This is the first condition of martial arts training. Therefore, everyone must be strong inwardly but quite gentle to others. - Tsutomu Ohshima, Shihan

I am a martial artist I see through different eyes. I see a bigger picture when others see grey skies. Though many can’t conceive it, I stand...facing the wind. My bravery, not from fighting, but from my strength within. I am a martial artist. I’ll walk the extra mile. Not because I have to, but because it’s worth my while. I know that I am different, when I stand on a crowded street. I know the fullness of winning, I’ve tasted the cup of defeat. I am a martial artist. They say I walk with ease. Though trained for bodily harm, my intentions are for peace. The world may come and go, but a different path I’ll choose. A path I will not stray from, no matter, win or lose. - Karen Eden

The Art of Karate, when done with affection, with beauty of movement, gives dignity and grace to the body, which in turn gives great dignity and grace to the spirit. One’s movements have symmetry and there is elegance in their flowing design. This refinement in the way one moves has an effect on one’s relationship with another, bringing to it a sense of ease and charm. One naturally wants to bring symmetry to one’s life, having manners, being polite, gracious, kind. This is not contrived. It is authentic, arising out of a genuine impulse for order and intelligence. - Terrence Webster-Doyle, Karate, the art of empty self

Before Trias imparts any knowledge to a new batch of students, he emphasizes the lethal nature of karate.

“I insist,” he says, “that all karate students avoid fights. They should walk away, using any means available to sidestep a fight. Karate must be used only as a final self-defense measure. As such, it is a potent weapon indeed.”

- Unger, Henry F., Karate -- “Gentle” Art of Self-Defence, Popular Mechanics, July 1959. Quoting Robert Trias.

Karate is not a person, place, or thing. Karate is only a set of instructions. Until those instructions are executed by someone, they exist only in the abstract. Karate has no philosophy. Karate has no shape. Karate has no effectiveness. Karate has no qualities at all other than as a set of instructions. The person doing karate gives it all of its qualities the way a glass gives water shape, the way computer hardware gives software speed and reliability. -

You may train for a long, long time, but if you merely move your hands and feet and jump up and down like a puppet, learning karate is not very different from learning to dance. You will never have reached the heart of the matter; you will have failed to grasp the quintessence of karate-do. - Gichin Funakoshi

Think about the things you do in daily life and ask yourself if they are really worthy of your attention. Do you really need to see reruns of an old television show? Do you really need to work overtime on this task today? Do you really need to go to the boss’ barbecue, even though you don’t like him? Are the things you fill your mind with valuable? Do they nourish you? Do they help sustain you? Do they make you a better person? Time is short. Our lives are busy and life spans are limited. If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you might want to revisit what you are doing and ask yourself the hard question, “is this worth my attention?” When you ask this question of your martial arts training, what is the answer you receive? - Lessons from the dojo floor, Kris Wilder

Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless - like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon, (1973)

A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract; and when he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, "I" do not hit, "it" hits all by itself. - Bruce Lee: Enter the Dragon (1973); In a conversation with an older member of the temple.

... the older and more classical Sakiyama-ha Shoreiji Ryu no Kenkyukai (Ryukyu Toudijutsu) deshi utter these remembrances to themselves at the end of each renshu (practice session): Juroku go o sei seru (gentleness controls force) Setsu no motsu (be strong, but know when to bend) Kenjo no bitoku (with true strength comes humility) Oshi shinobu osu (be patient with yourself and with others) Mai nichi ren ma (everyday keep polishing) - Sakiyama, A., The Dojo Desk Reference, p. 69

21 precepts of Miyamoto Musashi 1. Accept everything just the way it is. 2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake. 3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling. 4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. 5. Be detached from desire your whole life long. 6. Do not regret what you have done. 7. Never be jealous. 8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation. 9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others. 10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love. 11. In all things have no preferences. 12. Be indifferent to where you live. 13. Do not pursue the taste of good food. 14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need. 15. Do not act following customary beliefs. 16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful. 17. Do not fear death. 18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age. 19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help. 20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour. 21. Never stray from the Way.

Doing the right thing is almost always difficult. It is often difficult to quickly admit fault, be direct, and do what must be done. It is easier to not admit fault, to obfuscate, and to procrastinate in the short run, but it never pays off in the end. However, doing what is right means dealing with the problem now so that it will not linger, and will not grow in size. Do not let things go unattended, creating a haze of feelings including guilt and fear. Guilt for not doing the right thing at the time; fear that it will grow, or you will be found out.

Some time ago, I was at a judo tournament where a black belt and brown belt were entangled in some ground fighting. The referee stopped the action and sent the judokas to their marks, and then he signaled for them to continue. To my surprise, the black belt stepped back and bowed, conceding the match.

I asked him later what had happened. He said, “that guy had my arm and I was tapping out. The referee didn’t see it, but I felt it, and he had me. Conceding was the right thing to do. He beat me.” - Lessons from the dojo floor, Kris Wilder

Four Daily Affirmations According to Jhoon Rhee, the key to living a healthier, happier life is to repeat the following mantra every day: I am wise because I learn something new every day. I am humanly perfect because I never make mistakes knowingly. I like myself because I always take action to make good things happen. I am happy because I always choose to be happy. - DECEMBER 2009 /

One day a samurai came to see the Zen master Hakuln and asked him, “Is there truly a heaven and a hell?” “Who are you?” the master asked. “I am the samurai . . .” “You, a soldier!” Hakuln exclaimed. “Just look at yourself! What lord would want you in his service? You look like a beggar.” The samurai grew angry and drew his sword. Hakuln continued: “Oh, good, you even have a sword! But you are certainly too clumsy to cut off my head with it.” Losing all self-control, the samurai raised his sword, ready to strike the master. At that very moment the latter spoke, saying, “Here is where the gates to hell open.” Surprised by the monk’s air of calm assurance, the samurai sheathed his sword and bowed before him. “This is where the gates of heaven open,” the master then said.

	- Faullot, Pascal, Martial arts teaching tales of power and paradox: freeing the mind, focusing chi, and mastering the self
To him, any place could serve as home -- more than that: wherever he happened to be was the universe.

- Eiji Yoshikawa about Musashi

Pai Mei’: [Punches through a block of wood from three inches away] Since your arm now belongs to me, I want it strong. Can you do that?

The Bride: I can, but not that close. Pai Mei: Then you can’t do it. What if your enemy is three inches in front of you, what do you do then? Curl into a ball? Or do you put your fist through him? - Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

“Strive for progress, not perfection.” That statement, is a quote from somebody sometime, is really a releasing statement. I remember the first time I heard a form of it from my instructor. I had pulled him aside after class and was lamenting my ability to do the kata perfectly. He listened and then uttered the phrase, “Strive for progress, not perfection.” And he added, “Or quit because you aren’t having any fun.” Wow – lighten-up with yourself, or move on. Not what I expected to hear, not remotely, not even in the same universe. However he broke me out of a place in my life, as a young man, that was sorely needed. It was a midwest koan, decidedly designed to break me out of my thinking pattern. Oh, it didn’t happen over night, it took time to set in, but it worked. So I pass it on to you strive for progress, not perfection, be gentle with yourself – Lord knows the world won’t be. - Kris Wilder

Each day of human life contains joy and anger, pain and pleasure, darkness and light, growth and decay. Each moment is etched with nature’s grand design—do not try to deny or oppose the cosmic order of things. - Morihei Ueshiba

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower you try not to get wet and hurry down the street. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses you cannot help but get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning that you will get wet you will not be perplexed even though you still get a soaking. This understanding extends to everything. - From the seventeenth-century Samurai manual Hagakure

Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, and take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your own door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything—even mountains, rivers, plants, and trees—should be your teacher. - Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido

Once centenarian teacher who had the body of an adolescent told me he had studied martial arts. “Me, too,” I answered. We were in Notre Dame, and he said, “Attack me.” I put myself in a combat position, and he moved his left hand in such an incredibly beautiful way that while I looked at it, fascinated, he gave me a big slap. “Beauty is the most dangerous weapon,” he warned. It took me a long time to understand. He used a secret Chinese practice, which consists of drawing a snake in the air with your hand to distract the enemy. And that is how beauty is: the most awful weapon. - Alejandro Jodorowsky, Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy (2010)