People practice karate for different reasons, there are those who like to master it as a martial art, others for fitness, or sport, some like the character cultivation aspect of it and some simply enjoy it. All these reasons are true and of great value.
The original role of karate was to destroy opponent’s offense power and to protect oneself.
Nowadays, fortunately, we are not likely to use karate in life and death situation.
In order to gain the mental/spiritual understanding and value of karate, we cannot bypass the original function of karate as budo “to destroy opponent’s offense power to protect self”.
It is only through being at the edge, training as if “one chance live or die”, that one can truly experience the mental/spiritual understanding through karate.
Through this Budo aspect one can internalize higher principles and wisdom and live life in accord with this wisdom.
To classify karate as another form of physical exercise is to view it as sport and it misses the point completely.
I appreciate the excellent attributes that sports have to offer, physically and mentally, but Budo was devised and used where one’s life was at risk, for this reason it differ from sports, and it is here that the true value of budo karate lies.
If we ignore the original function of karate as budo, where life and death are held in the balance, than one dismisses the value of karate.
Karate has great value as physical exercise and character cultivation, but if we forget the role of karate as budo, we will not be able to comprehend the true meaning of karate.
That is why we must train as if our life is on the line, with utmost seriousness, being totally present, doing our best in each training and technique. That is why Sensei Nishiyama hated sloppiness, demanded dignity and good manners, wanted us to be sincere and pure in our training and actions, and asked us to be disciplined and do each technique as it was our only chance.
Than we can understand life principles through karate, have a clear mind, confidence, and will be able to cope with any life situation, and to apply karate principles in a self defense, in business, and in any area of life.
Ultimately, through karate we can make this world a better place.
This will not happen through theory alone, only when theory and practice came together real changes can happen.