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The Principles of Karate #15

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

15.) Think of the opponents hands and feet as swords.

This principle should be taken literally for a couple of reasons.

First, since the hands and feet of the dedicated practitioner of karate-do can be dangerous, like a sword is dangerous, it stands to reason that if your opponent or attacker is skilled in fighting, they can be a real threat as well.

Secondly, in this modern age, assailants are often armed with an edged weapon. In defending yourself, you may not realize that your assailant has a knife and that can be costly. Unless you are certain no cutting implement is present, it is wise to act as if they have a knife in their hand.

The best approach for effective self protection is to always assume that your attacker is highly skilled, at least until they’ve proven otherwise.

Respecting the ability of the individual who is attacking you helps you maintain the proper mindset for survival and allows you to perform at your best thereby increasing the probability that your defense will be successful.

Keep in mind that when survival is at stake, even the untrained are capable of unleashing amazing power and extraordinary strength with their limbs. And if they fight with all their heart and soul, without regard for life or limb, they are all the more dangerous.

We should never succumb to overconfidence or arrogance about our strength and ability. Whether we are confronted by someone with or without martial training, we must allow for the potential of the opponent.

As Master Funakoshi admonishes, “ When trouble occurs, we should always remain careful and respectful in words and actions and never look down upon opponents or discount their potential. Rather, we should concentrate on defending ourselves with full awareness and commitment.”

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