Monthly Archives: May 2017

What Sun Tzu said

1347178311“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.”– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

When the great warrior philosopher wrote the second sentence of these words he could have meant a myriad of things; your demeanor and control of your own fear can shatter an opponent prior to the altercation; using strategy in the initial instant of a fight to end it; or simply taking the fight out of your opponent with a strategy other than violence.

But what about the internal enemy? What about the noise and anxiety in your own head that is oftentimes harder to beat than the guy standing across the ring from you. Does the Art of War still apply?

Sun Tzu didn’t get worldwide proclaim simply teaching people how to win battles with their hands and feet; he did so by understanding that the biggest battles are within. Hence the reason the Martial Arts are used now to treat conditions like Social Anxiety, PTSD and struggling Self Esteem.

Subdue means to quieten, and coming from a guy that knows anxiety, mitigating it and reducing the fear of it is all about being able to quiet your mind.

A traditional Martial Arts Dojo is a place where you only strive to get better than your own self. You condition your body for better health, and you spend hours with nothing on your mind other than the task at hand – utilizing both sides of the brain.

From personal experience, Kata alone is a rewarding therapy.

A good Dojo is a family where there is a leader and a few like-minded students, all striving to get better for various reasons. A Dojo is a place where goals area attainable, but it takes commitment to get there. What that means is that every time you pass a test or accomplish something, you feel like you did it of your own accord. Doesn’t matter if it is doing your Kata in front of the group for the first time, or you get awarded a new rank – they are accomplishments that you pushed toward… and you had to quiet your doubting, anxious mind to get there.

Sun Tzu knew that karate isn’t one-dimensional, and he also knew that training your body in turn trains your mind.

He understood that the Martial Arts are indeed Moving Zen.



Doing Damage by Doing it ‘Right’

The thought of questioning karate, or having to adjust a technique to fit your body seems like blasphemy to some: if it isn’t in its original form, its wrong. After all, we’ve been doing the same stuff for hundreds of years. How can it be wrong?

EmpiWell, the science of kinesiology has proven it can be, and part of improving karate is digging deep and sometimes accepting that we were wrong – accepting that sometimes there is a better way to practice and to execute techniques.

I’m 45. I have a somewhat unstable right knee and a left shoulder that dislocates. My left Haishu-uke in Kanku-Dai isn’t as vertical as it should be and my Handachi position in Empi isn’t as deep as it should be. So does that make it wrong?

No, the small adjustments I have to make allow me to still do karate. Sticking to solid, age-old karate principles and forms is crucial to the life of karate, but doing self-harm trying to do every waza in it’s original form is futile.

Accepting our limitations in the Dojo means two things, I believe: we don’t have to give up training, and we open the doors to a wider range of potential  Karateka of varying age and physical ability.

David didn’t kick Goliath in the head; he used his best weapon and dropped him with a rock.

Not everyone is great at everything, but everyone is great at something.