Friday, 29 July 2011

Spirit first, Technique second.

Just had 3mile run. Training was cancelled last night, but a couple of us had interesting debate about karate & street fighting i.e real world self defence. I think I struggled to get my point across as clear as I would have hoped. If people aren't thinking along the same line as you, you really need to be able to break down your points and explain each aspect in detail. Which I think I failed to do in enough detail, but also, I think the person needs to be willing to hear what you have to say. from the aspect of street-fighting I have ample experience & I fully understand from experience that ANYTHING GOES & you need to be prepared for that fact that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. I think the majority today are under the illusion that the "sport" karate IS the self-defence techniques that we need to apply in real-life.
I think it was Geoff Thompson who said this, when asked the old stupid question of which style is better, and I agree 100%, I'm para-phrasing here, "a street-fighter, with NO martial arts training, who faces ANY martial artist of ANY STYLE, will come out on top in a STREET-FIGHT (NO RULES, NO LIMITS), EVERY TIME! However, a martial artist who is a street fighter, is another animal".
Now we don't want to fall into the same trap here, thinking we're unbeatable, nobody is unbeatable nor should anybody think that. As soon as you think that you lose focus, then spirit will fall straight afterward, then you're back to square one. Shapes.
Street combat or street encounters, do not have any room for morals, ethics, rules & regs., a conscience, or hesitation/half-heartedness.
So where or how do you get this ruthlessness from a martial art like karate, that stresses respect, humility and compassion? Where do we get this from? Its the intent with which you practice, even your kihon basics. Whats the difference between a baby's bite and a dogs bite? INTENT!! The baby does not bite with any intent to hurt or maim, he/she is just exploring, so the bite will do very little to no damage. Now, when the dog bites, its more often than not because he feels threatened and its done to defend himself, the intent is there and that's what makes it so effective. That's what makes an attacker think again and re-evaluate their intentions towards you. ( we could go more in-depth but everybody having their own opinion i just said Id give a quick taster and food for thought). If we don't train with the intentions we should(intent in every technique, i.e each one is finishing a real opponent) when we try to call upon our training in a live situation we will find that we have absolutely nothing in the armoury. Why? Again, I'll go back to the bite analogy, what was the difference? INTENT! If you practice without intent, you are depriving yourself of the most important part of martial arts training, the mental aspect! Look at oi-tsuki, karate lunge/stepping punch. It is only the intent with which you execute this technique that makes it a punch, no real intent implies its just a 'shape' or calisthenic exercise. Practicing like this, we're in big trouble some day when we need to act for real. All you can really rely on in a real situation is the intent in which you train as a martial artist, all technique(in a manner of speaking) goes out the window in a live fight, you will inevitably lose some of that smoothness when your suddenly finding yourself in a fight for real. Its your intent, or another word for it, and more commonly used, martial art spirit. That's the difference that will give us the edge over everybody else. Coupled with the years of training (and it takes many years to perfect techniques in karate that will have a devastating effect in real, live situations) and the spirit, which the street fighter mentioned above has in abundance, obviously lacking any technical training, its his spirit that enables him to overcome, spiritless or empty fighters who do nothing but throw shapes as they train, so inevitably on the street that's all they can do AT BEST. We could discuss this for, forever and a day, but the proof is there- in abundance, I'm not highly trained in karate, I'm only learning basics at brown belt, I'm not professing to be a karate expert at all, so I want to make that clear. But when it comes to fighting outside in the real world I do have experience and I know how fear can grab a hold of you, how you MUST control it, how far things can go if you let them & how serious and deadly results can be. Having taken up karate and other sport orientated martial arts, I am beginning to see the art of fighting in a much clearer way. Karate will give us technical training but it also works more importantly I think to train the spirit & character of the student, THIS is what makes the martial artist, not the choreography.
Ultimately the aim is to arm the student with this deadly arsenal of techniques/skills and awesome fighting spirit, in order for him/her to never actively seek out or engage in any physical violence whatsoever. Physical confrontation is a LAST RESORT. But unfortunately , in these times we live in, the opportunity to walk away or avoid a mugger or attacker in the street or a bully in the school is more and more difficult. More often than not we are forced to act. Unfortunately its often too late to act when somebody has physical made the first move, like thrown a punch or grabbed you. Too close for me, if they're armed with a blade/glass I'm dead at this range.
A lot of thought needs to be put in by the student themselves. Many are of the opinion that, "we're not getting the training", or "Sensei didn't tell us/show us this". When in fact they have been shown/told these things but have failed to pay heed or take on board what is being taught.
People need to start to analyze the training, both physical & verbal guidance you'll get in the dojo, from your Sensei's. Karate is for life, not just inside the dojo, I'm sure I read that somewhere ;-). We need to take responsibility for our own training and development in Karate.
To get very spiritual about it I could say this, Sensei can only point the way, we alone can walk our path.
Like I said above, my view is that spirit & attitude will get you through the majority of encounters, above anything else. Relying solely on technique, in reality, you don't have a prayer of executing anything without the spirit or intent. Hope if anyone reads this they might get a little push in the right direction and make the most of every single day of your training regardless of what colour is around your waist.
Precept number 5 - spirit first, technique second.
I'm going to finish with this question:
What makes a snakebite, a snakebite?

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