Sensei Nishiyama taught us principles and subtle details that allow us to train karate as it meant to be, self-defense using less power to defeat big power. Those principles can easily be neglected and lost, and one can easily focus on the external, which meant to be but a method by which we discover and internalize those underlying concepts.
Those principles, though they are invincible, are the essence. The beauty is that those concepts are woven together, each influencing the others, to create a whole system.
If we just copy the techniques, even perfectly and precisely, we will still be in the realm of relying on athleticism, more power and more speed will prevail.
As I see it, if karate is based on speed and strength, it is limited as a martial art.
The kata and basic techniques are meant to be the vehicle through which we access the underlying principles that allow us to be more effective in technique, and moreover use technique with optimal distance and timing. We strive to avoid the opponent’s power, and hit the opponent when they cannot use their power. Even the optimal mindset can be acquired through the kata when the principles are applied.
Those principles that I am talking about cannot be discovered by one person in a lifetime, even if one puts in hard work and countless hours.
It is through the kata, kumite with the oral transmission, which passed down through many generations, that we can achieve the “magic” of karate, which is not magic at all. The magic is in the knowledge of the past, combined with hard work.
And then karate becomes an art, and we can step into the unknown, and eventually add to this knowledge and keep on evolving.
Author: Rokah Avi Sensei