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The Principles of Karate #9

(Adapted from Gichin Funakoshi’s Book, The Guiding Principles of Karate)

9.) Karate Is A Lifelong Pursuit.

In the life of a karateka, there is no single point that marks the completion of karate training; there is always a higher level to be reached…new skills to master…more goals to accomplish. Because of this, the karate practitioner should continue training throughout his or her life.

Master Funakoshi says, “The true path of training is a boundless road with no end.”

Simply having learned all the techniques…the kihon (basics), the kata (formal exercises) and kumites (sparring), does not constitute true training unless one continues to polish them.

This principle is supported by a passage in the first book of Hagakare…

“In a tale of an aged sword master it says that there are stages to a lifetime of training. At the lowest level, even though one trains, there are no positive results and one holds oneself and others in low esteem. At this stage one can be of no service.

In the middle stage, although one still cannot be of service, one at least sees one’s shortcomings and can also recognize deficiencies in others.

In the upper stage, one comes into one’s own, taking pride in accomplishments, rejoicing in praise from others, and also feeling sorrow when others fail. One holds others in high esteem. For most people, this is the final stage.

But if one reaches for the next higher step, one encounters a superior Way. If one chooses to walk this path, one finally comes to see that there really is no end.

All thoughts of having come far enough vanish and one truly comes to know one’s deficiencies. One lives one’s life out with no desire for worldly success, one feels no need for pride, nor does one feel a need to humble oneself.

Lord Yagyu said he did not know the way to defeat others, but he knew the way to gain victory over himself – it was to become better today than yesterday, and better tomorrow than today – working in this manner day by day, all one’s life.”

The Master sums it up, “Walking this endless road, becoming better today than yesterday, and then better tomorrow than today – throughout one’s life – is a true image of the Way of Karate.”

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