In my seminar in Israel last weekend, I had a little talk with Tzachi, Moshe’s student and Israeli team member. Tzachi is wise beyond his years, and I learned a great lesson.
The background to this talk was my emphasis the following lesson from previous training: In kime, we make pressure to the floor with the breath, and the reaction of this pressure is absorbed through the body and delivered to the line of technique. No power in the technique arm is needed, rather, any undue tension in the arm will nullify the effect of the pressure to floor; it will block the reaction of the floor from coming back to the target.
In short, we have to give up power in order to have a strong technique.
Tzachi told me, “In every thing in life, people look for more power, in politics, in the work place, in relationships between people or countries, and this is the source of all conflicts. Here in karate we learn to give up power.”
Originally, most people come to karate to learn to be strong, but we teach them to give up power, to be weak, not only in technique, but also in the way we interact with opponents. We don’t compete against one’s speed (not to say that speed is not important, it is, in addition to skill); rather we win by accepting and harmonizing with the opponent. We give ourselves to become one with said opponent.
It takes hard work to give up power in technique, to give up fighting with the opponent and to eventually accept and become the opponent.
A while ago my very intelligent student, Tamir Nitzan, told me that he feels karate can bring out either the lowest, instinctive, animalistic side of humans, or the highest, most spiritual, and most selfless side them.
I remember that when I came to study with Sensei Nishiyama, I just wanted to become a better fighter. That meant more speed, more power, and of course better technique than everyone else. I still want to be a better fighter but in a totally different way. My technique changed once I understood that power is indirect, and my fighting changed once I stopped trying to fight and rather tried to win through synchronization with the opponent. This new journey is much more interesting since it bears no limits while my old journey was bound to the limitations of strength and speed.
If someone can apply the aforementioned principles, in the intensity of fighting and survival, if someone can give himself or herself up while being on the edge, he/she will have an easier time in other life activities.
Maybe that is why karate is an excellent way to better society and the individual.
I believe that if everyone takes the principles of karate and applies them to life and the world, we will have a better, more peaceful society, with less wars and conflicts.