December 14th, 2015
Onegai-shimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei and all USRKUSA Deshi,
The Ueshiro Shorin Ryi Karate Mission Statement includes the following as one of our three missions:
"To develop students to their maximum potential in body, mind and spirit; through courtesy, propriety, self-discipline and the ecstasy of hard work fostered by our dojo - the sacred training halls - of Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA."
In giving thought to how to foster and build spirit I was reminded of several passages I recently reread . The first is from"Moving Zen - Karate as a Way to Gentleness" by C.W.Nicol. Moving Zen is autobiographical and recounts the journey of the author from his moving to Japan, search for a martial arts school and his ultimate study of karate ( under a sensei who was a student of Gichen Funokoshi in the thirties ) and advancement from beginner to dan level in the early seventies. Nicol shares a story where he had a serious injury and bowed out of class when it was time for kumite. His sensei responded, "you have worn your karategi and you have entered the lesson. It is improper and impolite to leave before the end...Come back in." And so he did and the other students showed no quarter. By stepping on the deck he was taking responsibility for his rank. Nicol recounts the lesson, " And so I learned that if ever I had an injury serious enough for me to want to protect it, I either fought hard enough to defend the injury or I just didn't go to the dojo. It was reasoned that if you were fit enough to walk around, catch trains, stand on two feet, you were fit enough to train. By these means we were to learn 'spirit' The dojo was a theater of life and death..."
On page 113 Hanshi Scaglione's book, "Building Warrior Spirit" Hanshi provides the following insight regarding spirit, "Spirituality in karate is not related to religion but is more related to mental attitude, commitment to one's training, the will and drive of the karateka to strive for perfection in the art of karate. Afterwards one carries that strength over to every day life."
In the section, "Sugar from Master Ueshiro" on page 53 Hanshi shares the following, "During my early years of Karate training, the first six or seven years, I suffered from a problematic right knee. The injury was recurring periodically and troublesome for several week periods three of four times a year. I naturally continued my training with out ever laying off training, rather I worked around the injury, when ever it manifested itself.One night during a black belt workout, I was corrected by Master Ueshiro who noticed I was not bottoming out during the deep knee bends. I was going down three quarters of the way and he insisted that we should bottom out each rep. He did not regularly oversee the workouts and I had gotten into the habit of favoring my injury by doing semi squats in place of full squats. I conformed to the full, all out deep knee bends rather than complain, make excuses or explain the knee injury to Master Ueshiro. I worked all all squats that evening and every session since that night. Remarkably the knee was healed. I woke up the next day expecting a weekend of pain; quite the contrary, my knee has felt one hundred percent better and has not hurt since."
We must all remember the next time we are not 100%, if we are standing then show up at the dojo and train. When at the dojo perform " full all out deep knee bends" ! Build your spirit.