week's thought is from Sensei
Rob Neff, Yon-Dan
Ali, the Karate Creed & Lethal Force
Onegai shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei & fellow Deshi,
Ali passed away on June 3rd leaving the world to discuss
the Greatest boxer to ever live. As students
of Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA we can look at this man
through many lenses. He was a great fighter who knew how
to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,
rooting down with his powerful punches.
What struck me as much as Alis ability in the ring
were his principals outside of the ring. As karate students
we follow the karate creed as quoted in the Shorin-Ryu Okinawan
Karate Question and Answer Book.
I come to you only with karate. My hands are empty,
but I fear no man. Should I be forced to defend myself,
my honor, or my principles; should it be a matter of right
or wrong, life or death then here are my weapons,
my empty hands.
Kyoshi Mackay recently had the Midtown Black Belts think
about under what circumstances they would use lethal
force. This is something I think we should all contemplate.
Ironically, as one of the greatest fighters in the world,
Ali refused to be a party to lethal force used during wartime.
Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years
in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three
years. He stayed out of prison as his case was appealed
(he was eventually acquitted). Whatever your political views,
we should respect the fact that Ali carefully considered
his values and then stuck to them. Many years later, Ali
wrote in his autobiography:
I love boxing and it did a lot for me. But sometimes
it made me think how savage human beings could be to each
other. That wasn't the kind of boxer I wanted to be. My
strategy was to be as scientific as I could when I fought.
I didn't want to be seriously hurt, and I didn't want to
do that to anybody else either.
We may or may not agree with Alis positions regarding
lethal force at different times of his life. This is not
what matters. What is important is that we know for ourselves
when we would use lethal force to protect our loved ones
or ourselves. There is no correct answer to these questions,
but it is important that we think about them ahead of time,
to know how we may respond in a life or death situation.
Rob Neff, Yon-Dan