I've been a keen karate student for 16 years, Shukokai and Shotokan, but there still seems to be no shortage of things to learn and explore. I'm hoping this blog will allow me to share my experiences and hear other martial artists thoughts.

Archive for Bodhidharma

Funakoshi’s Essence of Karate No.1

I’m reading a couple of Karate books at the moment, Iain Abernethy’s Bunkai-Jutsu and The Essence of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi.

The Essence of Karate is a slim little book and I’ve been reading a chapter and then having a think about what it’s important messages were. I read a chapter last night and Funakoshi was quite explicit at the end in setting out what he wanted martial artists to take on board.

I thought each chapter would provide good inspiration for blog posts so I decided to start reading again from the first chapter. The initial chapters set out how Karate originated so I was a little disappointed there didn’t seem to be an explicit idea to take away from the chapter.

In Chapter 1 Funakoshi writes about how Bodhidharma traveled from India to China and taught the priests of a Shaolin monastery. It seems that he was frustrated at his lack of progress which he felt was due to their poor physical strength. He came to realise that strength of mind and body was important to enable their studies.

I’m sure getting fitter is one of the things new students to Karate have in their minds as one of the benefits they’ll receive from their studies but perhaps it’s only later you start to realise that it extends further than just being able to do reps of punches and kicks. And for me it’s the development of mental strength, that wasn’t something I was looking for when I walked into the dojo, that is something I value greatly.

I’m not a priest but in my own way I’m looking for enlightenment. I want to be as good a person as I can be and my karate studies have given me strength of mind and body that help me every day to live my life. And perhaps Chapter 1 is giving me another lesson. Karate doesn’t yield all it’s benefits at a first hasty glance, it rewards it’s students who embrace it’s many facets.