Many karate dojo, focus their karate classes on technique, now karate technique is very important, but if a karateka (someone who practices karate) has no spirit, it does not matter how good their technique is, their karate will be hollow and only resemble karate, it will have no meaning.
For me spirit always comes first! Let us imagine a self-defense situation where someone knocks you down, it is your spirit that will get you back up. The famous boxer Jack Dempsey (The Manassa Mauler) used to say, ‘A champion is someone who gets up, even when he cannot’, that there, is spirit!
Life is dull without spirit, the spirit to succeed, to finish something that is hard, the spirit to overcome obstacles in your life. It comes in many forms and karate without spirit, is not karate, it is simply body movements.
I feel that the hard part for a karateka, is getting the balance. Karate training should be difficult, but also enjoyable. When I was younger, all of our karate classes were extremely hard and ‘More Spirit’ was a common cry from our senior black belts. Today we still have hard parts to our training, the difference is, the really hard parts of our karate classes, do not last the whole class and we take care to balance the hard training with periods working on technique.
So for me, spirit is very important, along with the concept of Ikken Hissatsu (to finish with one blow). My karate sensei used to say, ‘learn to hit hard, fast and accurately’ I believe in this and without spirit, you can not achieve this.
Some karate dojo practice kumite (sparring), for the entire karate class and nothing else, some practice kata (form), for the entire class. Once again I believe in balance, which is why many karate dojo use the 3 k’s style of practice.
The three k’s are ~
1. Kihon (basics)
2. Kumite (sparring)
3. Kata (forms)
Many karate sensei say that kumite is the spirit of karate and kata is the soul. I would also agree with this statement. With the 3 k’s, I do not believe you should practice only one k. once again balance is the name of the game when it comes to soft and hard training.
This article is about spirit and technique and I know I should probably include some information on the karate kiai (shout), but I have some controversial views on the karate kiai, so we will save that for another article.