Concepts Principles Methods Theories Precepts
On Ko Chi Shin
This is an Okinawan proverb that translates to mean “Respect the ancient to understand the new". Onkochishin is a fundamental understanding in the study and research mindset when study the ancient arts of combat. From this very prolific statement the Matsusoden Kobukan gets its moto “Modern Knowledge from Ancient Wisdom". The further we look into the past the more is revealed to the true methods of combative arts that the ancients used to defend their lives.
The journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step. Like any journey, the traveler needs a guide to traverse unfamiliar landscape. The sensei (one who has gone before) is that guide to assist you to remain on the true path and avoid the many pitfalls along the way. The Okinawan Master's have a saying, "Do Mugen", which means "There are many paths that lead to the top of the mountain, but there is only one view of the moon". This is an old encryptic Okinawan proverb that applies to the martial arts. Where ever you start in the study of martial arts, during the journey and regardless how you get there, what one ultimately realizes is that the martial arts all have the same end goal and that martial arts are more similar the longer you study than they are different..
The Circle of Life (Enso):
Enso is a Japanese word meaning “circle” and a concept strongly associated with Zen, It is drawn in a single stroke by a human hand. The roundness and perfection of the circle is a single unthinking act shows great practice on the part of the artist; however, even the most perfect zen circle has a beginning and an end representing the transition from life to death.
In the Martial Arts realm, Enso symbolizes the journey from beginner to Master. As we say "You have gone full circle". As the white belt transitions to black and then back to white we learn that along the path all that seems unrelated is related. The adage, in regards to bunkai (application of technique), “To the atarashi (novice) there are many, to the master there is only one”. This precept reflects upon the inclusiveness of the circle in which it encompasses as well as the void in the middle. There is a saying in Japan Martial Arts that reflects upon the Enso- Circle and the journey of 1000 miles.
Shuhari (SHU HA RI)
Shu "protect", "obey" — traditional wisdom — learning fundamentals, techniques
Ha "detach", "digress" — breaking with tradition — detachment from the illusions of self
Ri "leave", "separate"
Training in martial arts resembles the transition that one experiences throughout life. Shu, represents the child who initially learns from one's parents and is obedient and obeys the lessons taught without question. This is similarity is represented with he atarashi (novice student). In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms that our forebears created. We remain faithful to these forms with no deviation.
In the stage of ha, this would be equivalent to the teen years where independent thought and influences cause us to question and explore. During this stage in martial arts we begin to discover innovations in the movement’s applications and concepts that were once we have disciplined ourselves to acquire the forms and movements.
Finally, in ri, as in adult hood we have determined our own course based on the life lesson we leaned and set out on our own. The martial arts equivalent to the departure from our masters and begin to teach based on our own discoveries beyond our masters is the realization of becoming greater than the sum parts of the individual lessons, an enlightened understanding of the journey we have embarked upon in the beginning.
Three stage concept to Mastery:
Di (earth) Basics. To experience movements at the fundamental levels.
Ren (human) Ready to learn. (The Japanese belt system level of Shodan /1st degree black belt).
Tian (sky/heaven) No conscious thought, flows/moves like the elements. This stage takes years of training and coaching from other Grandmasters.
Maximum Results, Minimal Effort "Four ounces can overcome one thousand pounds". This concept was one that Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945) emphasized in his training. Kyan was a very small man in size and was prolific in his use of karate to dispatch any opponents that challenged him. The ability to overcome a larger and stronger aggressor, one must use their intellect as well as skill. By continuously placing a more powerful opponent in a disadvantageous position, (off-balance) you not only rob them of their power, but you also place them at your mercy as they are dependent on you for their stability and structural support.
Ichi Go, Ichi Ei (One encounter, One Chance). This is an expression that defines the immediate response to opportunity and seizing the moment without hesitation. The slightest delay in response in combat may result in defeat or death, depending on the circumstances and what is at stake.
Mokuso (Meditation, Clearing one's mind and focus on what is about to become). This is a mental preparation before and after conducting the arduous task of training in combative arts. Daily distractions and stresses are a hindrance to performance as well as dangerous in consuming you total focus from the hazards associated with physical combative endeavors.
Kime (Focus). This is best described as intent. Without intent, no true action can take place. Intent must be present to impart affect. Focus or concentration must be absolute when performing combative arts. Each engagement must require total attention to the task at hand.
Mind Like Water (Mizu no Kokoro)
Mizu no kokoro (mind like water) like the calmness of a placid lake the stillness of the surface of the water allows the reflection of everything around it to become clear. When the wind or wake of an object that disrupts the stillness causes turbulence clear vision is lost. Turbulent mind like the turbulent water sees nothing. In combat the mind must remain still in order to see everything and focus on the initial signs of attack in order to effect the correct response. Tension and anxiety cause a turbulent mind with fear and clouds the vision and thought of one's mind which will cause defeat in combat.
Mushin- Mind of no mind or thought. This is an achieved state of automatic reaction to an action. There is no thought as to what action is to be taken. This is an instinctive response formulated from years of training and practice.
Zenshin- mental awareness. This is a state of mind that hasn't wandered or lapsed to inattention. It is present before, during and after an attack or danger. i is the ever present attention to your surroundings.
One Count - Each basic technique taught to a beginner (atarashi deshi) is simplified in independent movements, 1, 2, 3.... In the perfection and performance of application, the advanced practitioner, striving to perform the movement in one count is the goal. In true Budo (warrior way), there is only the one count. This means that offense and defense are married and are performed simultaneously in one count when applied in combative arts.
One Stop- This is a true statement in regards to Karate. Choki Motbu (1870-1944) stated that there can be no continuous attack or following attack in Karate. This is because true karate technique is intended to stop the attack at the initial encounter. That is to say that each movement applied correctly, with proper timing and power will neutralize the threat. This concept negates many of the so called bunkai (applications) taught in modern karate schools.
Nintai- Perseverance. The tenacious internal (spirit) or will of never giving up, never submit, never surrender. The Japanese saying that represents this character is "Fall down seven, Get up eight"
Kuzushi /Kawashi- The disruption of balance or stability in the opponents foundational support. Displacement can be achieved by taking (Kuzushi) or giving (Kawashi) of the opponents center of gravity.
Double Weighted- (Substantial , Insubstantial).