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Funakoshi's Precepts #5

Posted by texperkin on 7 June, 2018 at 1:05

Returning to Funakoshi's 20 precepts....

5: Spirit First, technique second

We have talked about this in the dojo in the guise of ‘attitude’. The correct mind-set is key to karate and if this is right, then good technique will follow. This is not to say that technique is not important of course, but one will lead to the other.

This can be illustrated through the example of kata.

As unbelievable as it, many martial arts schools continue to teach technique as an ending in itself without any acknowledgement that what they are teaching should be effective in whatever context they are teaching. There is definitely a whole other topic here but the outcome of what you are training for must be front-of-mind before you can proceed to do that actual training. For example, if you are training for competition success, you must train specifically for that purpose. This means that you don’t need to be concerned with effective self defence techniques at close range, nor whether the kata you’re practicing is technically perfect. Instead, you will train for things like evoking trained responses and making sure you are scoring points regardless of the following technique.

A technique can be perfectly executed but lack effectiveness if it is not committed or if it is not executed in the correct context. This is seen in kata as it is very easy to think of kata as a dance or just a series of steps to learn, when in fact the mind-set should be that you are training for confrontation. Every technique should have the same intensity as when you are hitting a pad or sparring and ultimately in a self-defence situation. The effectiveness of a technique is greatly increased if you are thinking about what you are trying to accomplish while executing it. What is your intention in sparring? It is to ‘fight’ using an offensive or defensive strategy where appropriate? Is it for self-defence? Basics and kata should be seen in the same light. By thinking of them in these terms, your movements will have purpose and power behind them.

Taking this further we should also understand that at a more basic level, unless you approach your karate practice with the right attitude (i.e. to learn and put in the required effort regardless of external influences and discomfort) then you will never truly be doing karate.

Your technique will ultimately improve provided you train with the correct spirit.

Categories: General Karate