Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

Having recently read the book, Karate-Do My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi, I was both fascinated and inspired by Funakoshi's lifetime dedication to the art of karate. I was especially inspired by the overwhelming acts of kindess, humility and selflessness displayed by Master Funakoshi.

My favorite chapter in the book was titled, "Training For Life."  Within this chapter, I found that the sections "Win By Losing" and "The Danger of Pride" resonated deeply within me.  These sections especially helped me to reflect upon my own practice and enabled me to further define what my practice means to me.  

In the section "Win By Losing," Funakoshi describes two incidents where he had near violent encounters. In the first encounter Funakoshi's master, Itosu, instructs him to not to fight, but to instead approach his would-be attackers and talk with them. Speaking with the potential attackers leads to peaceful resolution of the situation and Master Itosu praises him. In the second situation, Funakoshi is approached by robbers and wards off the potential violent exchange through calmness and speaking with humility. These were both poignant examples for me because, although I am normally a fairly calm person, I have let anger blur my decisions at times. It is important for me to remember that calmness and humility can always be reinforced and nurtured within oneself.

The section "Danger of Pride" describes an event where Funakoshi joins a hand wrestling match, albeit reluctantly, when he is caught watching a competition between a group of men. He wins a few matches, leaves abruptly and later looks back upon the event with remorse. He wonders why he joined the match and realizes that, "it was overconfidence in my strength. It was a violation of the spirit of Karate-do," and he felt deep regret years later as he reflected on the experience. This is important to me because it caused me to think deeper about the meaning of karate. When I first began karate, I wanted to learn about self defense and ways to physically strengthen myself, but didn't realize there were other components of karate that would be more important to me, mainly: kindness, persistence, patience, humility and selflessness. I'm finding that as I continue my practice, karate has become more of an internal endeavor for me. I'm finding that I'm less concerned with how my physical skills measure up to those of my classmates,and that it is more important for me to continue to improve myself through the deeper meaning of karate and constantly work toward improving myself in the spirit of karate-do.

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Comment by Marcus Cortez on August 7, 2012 at 9:36am

Cool reflections Heather, I've had some of the same transitions in my training, such that the bulk of my attantion has shifted from technique and agility to attention on personal growth, humbleness, and focusing the mind. Your comments remind me of the ispiration Gichin Funakoshi provides by illustrating the path of growth we are on and the heights we can achieve both personally and in the world.

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