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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Spirit and Character: The Missing Elements

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In a recent article written by Michael Clarke Sensei of the Shinseidokan Dojo blog fame he wrote about the principles of shin-gi-tai or, Shin means your spirit, Gi means your technique, and Tai means your body.” His premise in this simple yet complex statement, or meme if you will, is that in modern karate the emphasis is almost exclusively on gi-tai or technique-body development. I feel he is speaking to the missing, critical, elements or principles of karate or any martial art that of, “Spirit and Character.” 

When we speak of spirit and character we are talking about certain principles that make these two terms to have substance, depth and breadth toward the training, practice, application and most important of all, “The Understanding,” of the discipline/art. 

When we speak of certain more metaphysical and philosophical aspects we sometimes refer to the systems “goku-i” such as having, “Balance.” Balance is not just that ability to remain upright, mobile and able to apply multiple methods to achieve your objectives but a mental and spiritual one as well with a basic meaning that if we don’t balance our all aspects to include one’s spirit and one’s character then all we are doing is performing routines with emphasis on strength that fosters one’s ego, pride and status. 

If we are to truly embrace the martial arts and karate of the Asian culture, that many modern dojo pay a lot of lip service too, then we have to embrace a cornerstone of that social culture in, “Harmony.” Harmony is achieved at all costs with even doing or saying things to return the balance of harmonious social order. Therefore to achieve a harmonious state of spirit, body-mind and physiokinetic in the manifestation of multiple methodologies of applied fundamental principles of martial arts and karate we must harmonize our shin and gi and tai, “Our spirit, technique and body (note: technique does not mean what one thinks in this instance).”

When I speak of spirit I think of the production of said spirit from a model that is one’s character along with their personality, i.e., character+personality+mind-body=spirit (fundamentally, but more). 

Take maturity, think of what that means and then add in a strong mix of cultural social beliefs along with other factors that make one mature, i.e., emotional maturity, etc., then we have a foundation not just for martial arts and karate but for ourselves and our tribe or dojo or family or community. 

We, the modern dojo, stress the physical because it is both the easiest and the hardest to master. It is the path to strength and all that brings with it. It is that something more concrete than a philosophical, i.e., theory, physiokinetic, philosophical, self-defense and chemical cocktails. 

We see our bodies because it is that which can be seen and felt while the philosophical that feeds, builds and strengthens the mind-body manifestations that are a foundation of spirit and character are not seen and are the most difficult to define, teach, and understand simply because of the individual and differences between them.

Fundamentally speaking, “Your ability to do karate techniques comes from your body and your knowledge and practice of them, but wisdom comes from your mind, and your heart. Your ability to make the techniques work comes from your feeling for karate, not only your knowledge of it.”

Although I really feel that Clarke Sensei has more understanding then I on this subject I still have strong feelings that would warrant me to say instead, “Your ability to do martial arts/karate come from your mind, your heart/spirit, your knowledge as to applying it proficiently, and your ability to connect to the body while wisdom and maturity toward spirit of character are a product of your mind-body, your heart and your philosophical cultural social belief system.” (needs work)

This can best be exampled by saying that for self-defense from karate one often leaves out the shin as well for the technique and body while a plethora of educational material must be presented, learned and ingrained in order to understand the application of gi-tai or technique and body of self-defense whether by karate or martial arts or other means. If you don’t know and understand things like, “JAM” and “Force Levels” and “Avoidance -n- Deescalation,” etc., along with, “Types of Violence” and “Monkey vs. Human Brain,” then simply learning the technique based material is tantamount to the missing elements of both, “Spirit and Character!

Bibliography (Click the link)

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