Monday, September 1, 2014

Thank Your Opponent

On August 31, 30 Seichou Karate and Judo students and family members observed the Shidogakuin 30th Anniversary Tournament, during which more than 200 kendoka (practitioners of kendo) from Brazil, Canada, Japan and the U.S. competed. The event was held at the Ernst Cultural Center of Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. Seichou Karate and Judojo was pleased to sponsor this event.

Simply explained, kendo is Japanese fencing with a bamboo sword (called a “shinai”). However, being that kendo is not a form a self-defense, why is it relevant today?

The answer lies in the fact that modern kendo is a distillation of the finest facets of bushido, which is the code that governed the lives of medieval samurai. It is much more than swinging a stick around to score points by striking an opponent. Rather, properly done, kendo fosters humility, honesty, courage, industriousness and gratitude, and requires tremendous physical fitness, alertness and martial expertise.

So, kendo is relevant in contemporary society because it inspires practitioners to manifest the very best human virtues. It’s also really cool and a heck of a lot of fun.

Seichou Karate and Judo students were impressed by the fine display of martial skill and etiquette at this weekend’s event. I was impressed by the admonition of Chief Judge Masaharu Kakehashi, who had travelled from Japan to officiate. Among his closing comments Master Kakehashi said “kendoka should be grateful when their opponents strike them.”

This might be counter-intuitive, but the thinking goes that when our opponent strikes us hard, he gives us an opportunity to improve. Hence, one should thank his opponent for giving him a good shot.

This admonition is also fundamental to the practice of judo and was articulated in the 19th century by Founder Jigoro Kano when he coined the phrase “jita kyouei,” which describes a reciprocal concern between judoka for each other’s well-being.

However, it is not an admonition that one often hears in the karate world. Except, of course, if you are a Seichou Karate® student because we often remind our members that we practice karatedo not merely to become strong for ourselves, but also to help our classmates become strong. We require our students to commit to a win-win ethic in training including contact free-fighting.

In sum, I am delighted that our students had the opportunity to observe such a fine event and to realize that the ethics that we teach at Seichou Karate and Judojo are replete throughout traditional Japanese martial arts.

We heartily congratulate the WashinkanShidogakuin on a highly successful tournament!

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