Today, in dojo, we had two new female students. The kind of which I have seen in the dojo for many years. Usually, coming for one or two lessons and then disappearing in a cloud of personal comfort.
The reason I chose martial arts was not because I wanted to be more fit or so that I can learn a beautiful way to move my body.
I learnt martial arts so that I could stop those bleeding bullies from pushing me around. I wanted to defend myself by being completely capable of hurting the other person so as to stop him from hurting me. What I did not know, then, is that martial arts is a lot more than about hurting.
Martial arts is about killing. It teaches the physical, methodological way of killing another man using nothing but fists and feet. I did not know of this until I advanced through the higher ranks. It does not require a black belt. In fact, being an Ikkyu,myself, I can already open up a dojo and teach, as Sensei – my expertise has been deemed sufficient by the Israeli Shotokan union for this purpose.
Today we practiced Ippon-Kumite. The most basic type of combat training. One participant attacks once, the protector protects himself, counter-attacks with Gyakutsuki, and then repeat this ad infinitum.
The new pupil, a female, about 14 years old, stood before me, without Karategi, wearing a gym suit and black trainings, all smiles and embarrassment, prepared for the ordeal. She attacked me without attacking me.
I told her to stop, and attack me.
And she did not attack me again. She punched her fist until it was a few centimeters away from my chest. I told her to attack my chest.
After she tried again and failed, I asked her: “What do you think we do here in Karate boxing?”
Having not replied to me, I told her what the Sensei taught me years ago: ” Karate is about killing other people”. By now the girl became terrified, and not just embarrassed. I told her: “Here we learn how to kill other people. Do not forget this.”
The frightened young girl continued to train with me, as I insisted on her hitting me with the aim of killing and I punched her in ways in which she felt threatened to death without actually provoking any damage.
I write this to point out the difference between every martial art and the universal trait of all martial arts –
Self defense is not a universal martial art trait. It is peculiar to Shotokan Karate-Do as it may be of other martial techniques.
The universal teaching of martial arts is how to use the body without any weapons to completely kill another person, to make him devoid of life, to destroy his body.
Before people realize this, they can never be true Karateka. Without the true recognition that this world is filled with killers and a killer can only have as much freedom as to take a side, no man can be truly free. This earth is roaming with competition, some of it violent. Thus, nature imposes a framestructure of warfare upon any man, and indeed, any living creature. To be ignorant of this because of wealth and comfort is perilous to any man or woman. Especially when you come to study an ancient martial art such as Chinese or Okinawan boxing. The purpose of martial arts is to destory another human being.
The difference begins at what one does with this skill or knowledge – some may deploy it for greed and self-promotion.
Gichin Funakoshi, the founder and eternal Shihan of Shotokan Karate-Do, promoted a particular cause, somewhat arbitrary, yet peculiar to the Budo he teaches: Martial arts are to be an instrument of humility. Martial arts are to be a tool for justice.
No true Karateka must deny the truth of Karate as an instrument for death – but in Shoto’s way, this ability to kill is reined as to prevent damage to the innocent. This little man vouched his deadly movements of hands and legs to be instruments for preventing the weak and infirm from being molested, hurt or subdued.
In essence, he is the only figure I can truly count for as an eternal hero – he protects the weak in a way I was perforce to for the most part of my life – and through his discipline of martial arts – for the rest of my life.